Councils count £700,000 cost of fly-tipping

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Cash-strapped councils have been left counting the cost of fly-tipping that has blighted the county over the past four years.

Figures revealed to the Telegraph, following a Freedom of Information request, show that the four councils in the north and east of the county footed a £684,275 bill for cleaning up illegally dumped waste since 2008-2009.

In 2011-12, there were 3,217 incidents in Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and East Northamptonshire, down on 3,433 the year before, with only East Northamptonshire Council failing to record a reduction.

As councils look to save cash as cuts continue to bite, officials have spoke of the impact illegal waste dumping has on each authority.

Corby Council’s head of environmental services, Iain Smith, said: “There is a cost burden involved in fly-tipping and it comes out of the council’s budget which includes funding streams such as council tax.

“So as a consequence of people’s illegal actions taxpayers are having to pay for the fly-tips.

“It is far more appropriate to use the council’s own collection service for household goods or take it to the household waste centre in Weldon.”

Despite Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough launching more than 2,000 investigations, only 30 people were successfully prosecuted in those four years.

Nobody from East Northamptonshire Council was found guilty in court.

Most councils only prosecute fly-tippers as a last resort.

In the past four years, Corby Council has managed to reduce its incidents by 1,850 in 2008-09 to 1,094 last year.

The authority also prosecuted 17 perpetrators.

The council prosecuted Mr Omiteru of Counts Farm Road, Corby, and he was fined £300 in September for a fly-tip in Kettering Road in the town.

The authority spent about £99,000 on clearing up fly-tips from 2009 onwards.

Mr Smith added: “We always try to clear up a reported fly-tip in 48 hours, and if the waste is bagged up, we will try to find evidence in there that brings it back to an individual’s premises or business.

“We would then ask this individual responsible to come in for an interview.

“Not all of them do, but I think it acts as a good deterrent and we will let them know they are being looked at in the future.

“We’ve managed to really decrease fly-tipping but we might have reached a plateau.

“Through partnership work, identifying hot spots, and bringing individuals to account, we have managed to significantly reduce the number of incidents in the past four years.”

Kettering Council has recorded a year-on-year drop in fly-tipping since the 2009-10 total of 1,059 incidents, with 849 recorded in 2011-12.

But in four years, 762 investigations only yielded five prosecutions, while the authority spent more than £200,000 clearing up illegal waste.

Chris Stopford, environmental services manager at Kettering Council, said: “The money we spend on clearing up fly-tipping could be spent on frontline services at the council. But it is our duty to clear away rubbish as quickly as possible, but unfortunately there is a cost attached to this.

“I think the amount of times we’ve investigated has acted as a deterrent as the numbers of fly-tips has gone down.

“Sometimes our investigations lead us down blind alleyways and we find that the evidence is non-pursuable.

“I think the problem is that some people have an unawareness of what services there are to dispose of waste while others are unwilling to use them.”

The number of fly-tips in East Northamptonshire is low compared to our other authorities, with illegal waste dumps never going above 500.

However, last year’s total of 446 was the area’s highest amount since 2009.

Despite the low amount of incidents, £153,000 was spent on clearing them.

In Wellingborough, incidents fell from 910 in 2010-11 to 755 in 2011-12, and in four years. 411 investigations resulted in eight prosecutions.

The council spent £224,000 clearing up people’s waste.

Corby:

1,094 fly-tips recorded

£30,553 cost, two prosecutions

Kettering:

849 fly-tips recorded

£39,945 cost, one prosecution

Wellingborough:

755 fly-tips recorded

£49,314 cost, two prosecutions

East Northants:

466 fly-tips recorded

£28,240 cost, no prosecutions