Council efforts to tackle fly-tipping across Lancashire were given a new lease of life last year through on the spot fines - but what has happened since? TOM EARNSHAW investigates
New powers given to councils across Lancashire have seen over a dozen more instances of fly-tipping result in on the spot fines for the culripts.
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 £1050 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.
Many councils choose to go down the route of proseuction rather than on-the-spot fines, making the number of cases appear smaller than they actually are.
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.”
WYRE COUNCIL RESPONSE
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 flytipped 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.”
FYLDE COUNCIL RESPONSE
A Fylde Council spokesman said: “The new powers to issue fines to fly-tippers were formally adopted by Fylde Council in March of this year following a Committee Meeting.
“The reason for the delay was that we were looking at agreeing a similar charge to that of other authorities across Lancashire.
“Fylde Council’s penalty for fly tipping is fixed at £400, but reduced to £200 if payed within 14 days.
“Since May 2017 Fylde Council have served three fines of £200 for fly tipping and 2 fines of £300 for other waste offences.
“In order to serve a fixed penalty we must have evidence of the perpetrator, for example a witness or some documentation linking the evidence to the individual or business.”
Blackpool Council did not respond to requests for a comment
BLACKPOOL: In February 24-year-old Daniel Ashworth and his accomplice Ciaran Lonsdale were found guilty in court of fly-tipping piles of waste wood in the middle of William Street, Blackpool. Both men were found guilty of dumping waste, handling waste and carrying waste illegally.
Prosecuting for Blackpool Council, Mike Cavaney said: “What they did was a deliberate and reckless act and thoughtless in relation to the public.”
Twenty months earlier, Ashworth gained notoriety when he was caught on camera driving down a street in Blackpool in a hydraulic tipper truck.
He opened the rear tailgate spewing rubbish down the street as he drove off, leaving a trail of debris the length of the street.”
FYLDE: 39-year-old drove around rural Fylde on three successive days looking for places to dispose of waste he had been paid to take off of the hands of others.
Mechnan dumped the waste on Annas Road, Lytham, Bradshaw Lane, Weeton and Meagles Lane at Elswick.
He was given a 12-week suspended jail sentence in June, as well as 200 hours unpaid work for the community and ordered to pay £1,437 compensation to Fylde Council for cleaning up after him, along with £2,600 court costs.
A Fylde Council spokesman said: “The council aims to prosecute anyone who blights our environment in this way.”
LANCASHIRE COUNCIL’S FIGURES MAY 2016 - MAY 2017
Preston City Council - three fines totalling £600
Blackpool Council - one fine totally £400
South Ribble Council - three fines totalling £400
Chorley Council - one fine totalling £200
Wyre Council - four fines totalling £1050
Fylde Council - one fine totalling £200
Lancaster City Council - no fines