A MASSIVE 2,200 tonnes of litter and flytipped rubbish are collected by Preston Council every year.
Officers came across more than 1,900 instances of flytipping in 2014-15, with 25 tonnes collected in back streets in five days alone.
Officials say the amount of flytipping in alleyways has dropped since the launch of a campaign seven years ago, when almost 5,000 incidents were recorded in a year.
Now they say rubbish dumped is down to “sheer stupidity”, as furniture, bathtubs and TVs are still left in Preston alleys.
In the latest major clean-up operation, officers picked up 25 tonnes of waste from the city’s back streets in just one week.
Teams came across almost 100 instances of flytipping in alleyways in the clean-up.
Leaders say the amount of flytipping in alleyways has dropped since the launch of a new campaign seven years ago, and say rubbish dumped is down to “sheer stupidity”.
In 2008-09 teams recorded 4,864 incidents of flytipping, which dropped to 1,812 before the most recent operation.
Paul Cookson, Preston Council’s enforcement officer, said the council used to respond to every complaint of rubbish left in alleyways.
He said: “If somebody said there were bags, we would come out within 24 hours to clear them, so residents would see that as an extra service.
“The misconception of the service was ‘why do we need to bother with the bins, because if we chuck it in the alley way it will go’.
“In 2007, we looked at the problem and said, actually, the council is part of the problem.
“Now we only attend the alleyways every three months.
“It is still a problem, it will always be a problem while we’ve got residents because there’s a confusion about what they are supposed to do with it.
“While we’ve got all the advice on the website and we send out leaflets, the question they always ask is what am I supposed to do with it.
“The thing you’re not supposed to do with it is dump it, because that’s a criminal offence.”
Mr Cookson is one of two enforcement officers covering the Preston area, consisting of about 60,000 houses, 140sq km, 130,000 residents and 2,000 businesses, and decides whether to try to bring prosecutions against people.
He said: “A lot of it is stupidity. The criminal element of the behaviour isn’t always present, they are not always going out with the intention to break the law, they are just doing something without even thinking about it.
“The majority of people we deal with are just plain stupid.” He said people could be given written or verbal warnings, formal cautions, fixed penalty notices and prosecutions, but said: “We only prosecute people when there’s good cause to prosecute them, and that’s generally because they’ve ignored prior warnings.”
In the week before Christmas, between December 14 and 18, the council dedicated 10 staff and five vehicles to clearing back alleys, collecting 25 tonnes of waste and recording at least 92 separate incidents of flytipping.
The back alley behind Dove Street, off Castleton Road in Deepdale, is described as a “beacon” alleyway by the council, following the seven-year campaign.
But other alleyways were still filled with rubbish before the clean-up.
One Deepdale alleyway, which Mr Cookson described as “medium” on the scale of how much waste was left, contained discarded toys, boxes, and even a door.
He managed to find a letter addressed to a nearby property, and eventually made contact with the landlord who arranged for the waste to be moved.
In one back alley close to New Hall Lane, a pile of dumped waste had built up behind an empty property.
Mr Cookson said some of it was likely to be from the emptied house, but added: “We’ve got this crazy situation now where residents in the area think ‘we’ll just dump it there’.
He said: “The Fishwick area was the maximum impact for us with the back streets campaign, they were all bad.”
Another alley in Fishwick was filled with household waste, rubbish bags and furniture, and one resident told Paul he had no waste bin.
Paul said the householders were later given a new bin and paid for the waste to be removed, and said: “We accepted there was a genuine mistake”. He said: “When you think about where we were seven years ago, we were cleaning the alleyways twice a week.
“We had a lot more crews then, there were five crews and their only role was to service the alleyways.
“Then the cutbacks started and we had to lose those crews, and that coincided with the back street campaign coming in.
“It was a massive education project and then we said we’re not going to do it any more.”