Peterborough is being overrun by fly-tippers with over 9,000 reported incidents of illegally dumped waste in 2015.
The admission was made by Karl Bowden, joint head of service at the Safer Peterborough Partnership, who hopes that covert action against illegal dumpers of trade waste might help tackle the problem.
He said: “It’s a massive problem but we’ve got to start somewhere. It’s like how do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time.”
The number of fly-tipping incidents in Peterborough rose from 7,743 in 2015 to 9,303 in 2015. Between April 1 and July 31 this year, there were 1,470 fly-tipping investigations which resulted in two prosecutions and 43 fixed penalty notices issued.
Mr Bowden praised the city’s Prevention and Enforcement Service (PES) - made up of officers from the council, police, fire service and private sector - which has been investigating fly-tipping.
He told Peterborough city councillors: “PES do a sterling job, but the problem is fly-tipping is outstripping resource. We’ve got to try something.”
Mr Bowden’s report to councillors went further, stating: “The amount of fly-tipping far outstrips the capacity to deal with it. Likewise, whilst Amey clear a large amount of fly tips, again the problem overwhelms resources.”
Mr Bowden added that on one occasion, £6,000 had been spent prosecuting someone, but because he was unemployed the court did not to issue a fine.
The Safer Peterborough Partnership is implementing a new strategy against fly-tipping which will include a social media campaign.
Mr Bowden said: “I believe there are communities in Peterborough that do not understand how to dispose of waste. It’s well-meaning intentions but we need to educate.”
Covert action is also planned to catch illegal waste carriers. Cllr John Fox said: “We are our own worst enemy charging for bulky waste and brown bins.”
The PES has several covert cameras available for deployment, but they can only be used with the approval of a Justice of the Peace.
Cllr Gavin Elsey, council cabinet member for waste and street scene, said fly-tipping was at epidemic proportions across the UK. He added: “Whilst fly-tipping carries a maximum fine of £5,000, we can’t get a magistrate to fine someone over £500. If we got a sentence of £5,000 fly-tipping would drop.”
Cllr Elsey is also pushing to get more money put back in the Amey contract for 2017/18. Amey is the firm contracted to remove waste in the city.
He added: “They do a fantastic job but you can only do a certain amount of work with a certain amount of money.”
Kieron King, Peterborough’s account manager, said Amey meets its agreed targets to collect reported fly tips within 48 hours.