The council introduced £23 charges for bulky waste collections in 2010 (now £23.50), a policy it has retained despite a three month reversal in 2018 which was swiftly dropped after its leader said the trial had not made any difference to fly-tipping levels in the city.
Now, though, deputy leader Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald has pledged that unlimited free collections will return permanently if the Conservatives hold onto power following May 6’s elections as part of a raft of measures designed to clamp down on fly-tipping.
Other measures include:
. Paying for two trained enforcement officers with the ability to carry out prosecutions alongside police
. Introducing an accredited white van scheme
. Recruiting two full-time crews to proactively find bulky waste at people’s homes and take it away
. Using money gained from criminals to help private landowners remove rubbish dumped on their properties.
Cllr Fitzgerald, who is standing to replace John Holdich as Conservative group leader when he steps down from office next month, told the Peterborough Telegraph: “There is a hidden world of bulky waste, nevermind the stuff on street corners. I want to get on top of this.
“There will be no reason for people to fly-tip. I just want to get the city cleaned up.”
Cllr Fitzgerald said he had always been opposed to scrapping free bulky waste collections but that the decision had been taken as a group.
He denied that promising to re-introduce the collections on the eve of the elections was a political stunt, insisting that he has been pushing the idea for the past 18 months.
He also stressed that if the Conservatives hold onto power at the Town Hall but choose a different leader to replace Cllr Holdich, the party will still carry out the policies.
The member for West ward said: “I go door-to-door all the time - there’s a fridge in someone’s garden which is either then dumped by them or a white van man. We only end up picking it up anyway.
“In every garden in every street there’s some rubbish which needs removing. That needs to be proactively removed rather than dumped. It does make a difference and I’ve never personally said otherwise.
“Some in my group think that but I’m not them. There is no excuse to fly-tip. Those caught fly-tipping will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
To assist with the prosecutions, Cllr Fitzgerald - who is not up for re-election this year - said a Conservative-controlled council would pay for two trained enforcement officers with the ability to carry out prosecutions alongside police.
Convicted fly-tippers can receive fines of up to £50,000 if prosecuted through the courts.
On top of this, the Tories are pledging to recruit two full-time crews to proactively collect bulky waste from people’s properties, rather than in response to calls.
Cllr Fitzgerald explained: “We need to address those things being collected because they’re just being stored up. We will make it as easy as possible to remove the burden of removing bulky waste.”
An accredited white van scheme will see authorised contractors not charged to dispose of bulky waste which will then be recycled or burnt into energy.
And the council deputy leader said Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Darryl Preston has promised to spend proceeds of crime money (ill-gotten money from criminals) on covert cameras and assisting private landowners with the removal of fly-tipped waste if he wins his election next month.
A trial of re-introducing free bulky waste collections was carried out in 2018, but the move was never made permanent after Cllr Holdich said it had made no difference to the amount of fly-tipping, with the only result being the council missed out on £40,000 from fewer paid collections.
Asked why a change of approach was being put forward four weeks before the council elections, Cllr Fitzgerald replied: “The group thought (in 2010) it was the right thing to do, but I didn’t and never voted for it. Times have changed and it’s time to look at this again.
“It’s my initiative but the group supports it. We need to get on top of fly-tipping.
“There will be a new group leader but this has been discussed in the group and the Cabinet and it’s something we need a gearshift on because the system isn’t working.
“It’s been on the agenda for me for 18 months. With a change coming I want to set my stall out.
“This is in response to what people tell us. They want fly-tipping stopped.
“The other parties complain about this but don’t have a solution. We have a solution.”