Local Elections: The plague of fly-tipping in the city

Fly-tipping is far from being a victimless crime, affecting as it does the quality of life for our residents in the City’s urban areas, as well as in our villages and the surrounding rural roads and lanes, writes cllr Steve Allen, Conservative Group deputy leader.
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There are indeed two distinctive types of waste dumping that fall under the category of fly-tipping; the disposal of ad hoc household detritus by residents and landlords – this usually ending up stacked next to street bins, on pavements and at street corners, and can include furniture, mattresses and sundry domestic items.

Clearly detrimental to the amenities of those living where this occurs, and which in some cases could be deterred by the re-introduction of free bulky waste collection or the expansion of the community skip initiative.

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Of greater concern and one that has wider implications, is the kind of bulk dumping that occurs in the rural areas. This sees builders waste, tyres, white goods, redundant cannabis plants and garden waste dumped on verges, in farm gateways and in water courses; and ominously in a recent development, simply off loaded in the middle of country lanes. This clearly presents enormous road safety issues, and is very much the result of organised criminality.

Fly-tipping is a plague, says cllr Steve AllenFly-tipping is a plague, says cllr Steve Allen
Fly-tipping is a plague, says cllr Steve Allen

It’s timely that Paul Bristow MP has recently presented a Bill to Parliament under the title Disposal of Waste (Advertising and Penalty Provision). This addresses the issue of illegal operators using popular on line platforms to advertise their waste disposal business – requiring operators to display a valid waste transfer license number on all advertisements for their services. Additionally the bill requires local authorities to issue fines in cases where evidence of fly-tipping is substantiated, both on public and private land.

If enshrined in law the measures not only empowers consumers to engage with lawful entities under existing duty of care legislation but also makes it much harder for criminals to attract customers, thus reducing fly-tipping and increasing tax revenues from legitimate businesses.

I’m sure all political persuasions whether councillors or candidates will acknowledge the imperative of robust action on fly-tipping; indeed from recall every manifesto I have seen from the current election campaign has declared a mission to clamp down fly-tipping!

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What needs to happen now is real action to deal with the challenge – cross party, and with the full commitment council officers.

Let’s look again at neighbourhood skips, and free bulky waste collection. These measures would go some way to reduce the street corner dumping.

Covert cameras have been deployed to some success, but a more robust approach with the use of ANPR surveillance is long overdue; additionally we should review the regulations which require our Householder Waste Centre to restrict access to certain vehicles. The restrictions are clearly for a purpose and in the interests of site safety - but why not look at alternative options? A fly-tipping amnesty zone at a location where large items can be accepted and properly managed and controlled; pre-empting the excuse that access to the dump is too difficult – and providing the economy of a reduced need to collect fly tipped items.

It’s essential to curtail the organised criminality that is behind much of the illegal dumping.

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Higher fines have recently been introduced which will make prosecutions more viable, but seizure of vehicles and public name and shame must also be added to the toolbox. Picking up fly-tipping costs councils in the UK over £400 million per year, and is a huge burden on finances, not to mention the environmental consequences and quality of life issues that it impacts.

Importantly in advance of more robust legislation all house holders must insist on proof of a waste carriers licence from any businesses they employ. That action alone would produce immediate and positive changes.

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