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Councils want greater powers to tackle fly-tipping

Local authorities are calling for the power to issue on-the-spot penalties for fly-tipping, and want courts to award full costs when offenders are successfully prosecuted.

Councils’ representative body, the Local Government Association (LGA), says the current system for tackling the problem is not fit for purpose.

The LGA has calculated that councils dealt with 711,000 fly-tipping incidents in 2012/13, at a cost of more than £36m. Examples include Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which gets 400 complaints a month, while Derby City Council is setting up a special night-time ‘enforcement team’ (see examples below).

Councils have to take fly-tippers to court for redress but the LGA says that often only partial costs are awarded. This is because magistrates have to take into account the financial circumstances of the defendant and regard compensation as a higher priority than prosecution costs.

The LGA wants councils to be awarded full costs and have the power to issue on-the-spot fixed penalty notices (FPNs). These would be handed out for offences such as dumping pieces of broken furniture, old televisions and mattresses.

Cllr Peter Box, LGA environment spokesman said: “Chasing down the culprits and clearing up their mess costs taxpayers tens of millions of pounds every year.

“Local authorities are remarkably effective and efficient in tackling fly-tipping but the current system works against them. We need a new streamlined system which helps councils and hurts those doing the dumping, one that is nimble, flexible and effective.

“All the figures show that the huge amount of effort local authorities put into preventing and tackling fly-tipping is having a real impact – but new powers would ensure it goes even further.”

A spokeswoman for Defra sympathised with the extent that fly-tipping blighted communities and posed a risk to human health: “That is why we have invested an additional £5m to tackle waste crime and supported tough new sentencing guidelines on fly-tipping which reflect the seriousness of the offence.”

She added: “We continue to work with the LGA to improve our response, including making it easier to seize vehicles involved and considering the case for FPNs.”

  • Stoke on Trent: 400 complaints a month cost taxpayers at least £21,000 a month to clean up and the council plans to name and shame offenders
  • Derby:A night-time ‘enforcement team’ in the Normanton area means a manned council vehicle operating between 6pm and 10pm. 
  • The Clean Kent Campaign has been organised by Kent County Council with its 10 district, borough and city councils, Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the Environment Agency to provide advice and awareness materials to local residents and businesses.
  • Boston Borough Council has set up Operation Fly Swat to help rehabilitate offenders, along with a range of partners including the local prison, neighbouring councils, social housing providers and drainage boards.
  • Swindon Borough Council and the Swindon Community Waste Partnership carry out engagement with the community to help reduce fly-tipping and encourage residents to report litter and fly-tipping.
  • Buckinghamshire County Council’s 10-year fly-tipping enforcement initiative has saved taxpayers in the county more than £1m.

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