SPECIAL REPORT: Councils taking on the fight against fly-tippers

Fly-tipping at Preston Cemetery
Fly-tipping at Preston Cemetery
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New powers given to councils across Lancashire have seen fines of hundreds of pounds issued to flytippers.

Latest figures show that from May 2016 to May 2017, a total of 13 on the spot fines were issued by Lancashire’s borough and city councils as the crackdown on illegal dumping of waste continues.

The new powers to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were granted to councils across the country in May 2016.

Preston City Council and South Ribble Council issued three FPNs each, totalling £600 and £400 respectively. Chorley Council also issued one FPN totalling £200.

Blackpool Council, Chorley Council and Fylde Council all issued one FPN each, totalling £400, £200, and £200 respectively.

Wyre Council issued four totalling £1,050 and Lancaster none at all.

To put this into context, more than 4,600 FPNs were issued, collecting at least £773,000, in the year since the powers came into force.

Of 297 English councils who responded with figures, 43 per cent said they had not issued any fly-tipping notices between May 9 2016 when the powers were first launched, and May 8 2017.

The move by the Government to allow councils to apply FPNs for small scale fly-tipping – in response to requests from town halls – had been a “big step in the right direction” to help crackdown on fly-tippers, Local Government Association environment spokesman, Martin Tett, said.

But Mr Tett believes councils may still feel prosecutions were the most effective course of action.

Mr Tett said: “When they take offenders to court, councils need a faster and more effective legal system which means fly-tippers are given hard-hitting fines for more serious offences.

“Local authorities should also be able to recoup all prosecution costs, rather than be left out of pocket.”

An Environment Department spokeswoman said: “Fly-tipping is an unacceptable blight on our landscape, which is why we have cracked down on offenders by strengthening sentencing guidelines and giving councils the powers to hand out on-the-spot fines to fly-tippers.

“We have made it easier for vehicles suspected of being used for fly-tipping to be stopped, searched and seized and will continue to work with local partners to stop this inexcusable crime.”

What the councils say

PRESTON

Cabinet member for planning and regulation, councillor Peter Moss, said: “Fly-tipping is a major eyesore and a drain on council budgets and taxpayers’ money.

“Options for enforcement officers are fixed penalty notices and/or a prosecution at magistrates’ court, but each case must pass a ‘threshold test’ first. There must be sufficient evidence to prove the offender committed the offence.

“For cases where prosecution is an option, it must be determined to also be in the public interest once the threshold test has been passed. Officers have issued three penalty notices, but we have also been successful with prosecutions in other cases. This sends a clear message that we will investigate thoroughly all fly-tipping cases reported to us, and take action where we can.

“We do need the public’s help to report any sightings of fly-tipping, and to provide any evidence they have, so we can have an even greater impact on tackling the issue.

“Anyone can report such incidents via the council’s website.”

SOUTH RIBBLE

South Ribble Borough Council cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Streetscene, Coun Graham Walton, said: “The fly-tipping situation in South Ribble has not been that bad. Most times we have had issues has been with the travelling community, but it is not restricted to them.

“Overall we are always on the ball; anything that is reported is dropped on straight away by the Neighbourhood Work Force.”

WYRE COUNCIL

A Wyre Council spokesman said: “We investigate every fly-tipping incident and pursue matters where evidence is recovered to enable us to either issue a fixed penalty notice or initiate court proceedings.

“In other cases we have recovered costs from residents where we can determine the waste was generated from their property but they have not actually fly-tipped the materials but employed someone to take the waste away but they are made aware that they are responsible for the waste being disposed of in the correct (legal) manner.”