The leader of a grassroots rebellion in the scrap trade has launched a new organisation that is seeking a legal injunction against the cash ban which comes into force on 3 December.
Jon O’Brien, a scrap dealer of 17 years, told MRW his organisation, the Metal Recycling Collective, had received £12,000 in pledges towards legal fees in three days, and interest from hundreds of merchants.
O’Brien hit out at the “existing organisations” representing the trade for “sidling up to Whitehall” and failing to stop the cash ban.
“With the support I’m getting, I’ll be the loose cannon”, he said. “We’ll start making a noise, because the organisations supposed to represent us have been too quiet.”
“If I have to become an activist, I will,” he said, adding that he intended to break the law and buy scrap for cash after the ban comes into force on 3 December. “If I get arrested, so be it”.
O’Brien, director of Simply Recycling Solutions in the east of England, said everyone in the trade knew the ban would not prevent metal theft. The minority of customers involved in criminality would just find a way to take non-cash payments for stolen metal, he said.
He described the ban as a “knee-jerk reaction” that would make life difficult for merchants.
“No one has told scrap merchants how to pay without cash. You can’t write hundreds of cheques a day, it’s impractical. If you have more than one unit; you can’t keep track of your money; there is no PDQ [card payment] machine that you can use to legally credit someone’s account, so no banks are supporting this; BACS payments are nonsense, they can pay people twice, it takes up so much time, and the customer’s losing out.”
O’Brien said organisations that were supposed to represent the trade were had done very little to stop the ban, and that many scrap dealers were very disillusionedwith them.
“So I said, let’s set up another group. We’re scrap metal people. We fight with each other, we get dirty. We’re ‘muck is brass’ people. But some of these people have big pockets, with lots of money in them. So we’re going to get together and collectively do something about this nonsense.”
Director general of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) Ian Hetherington, said his organisation had “fought hard” against the cash ban.
He said “It’s more important than ever that the industry sticks together through this difficult time and works to prepare for the implementation of the cash ban. Trying to launch legal action against it is a fruitless diversion.”
•See today’s MRW magazine for a special insert and poster with guidance on the cash ban which comes into force from 3 December.
•Take part in MRW’s survey on ow the industry is preparing for the cash ban.