Fly-tippers given 'on the spot fines' as Cumbria councils crack down on culprits

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FLY-TIPPERS are being slapped with "on the spot" fines as Cumbria's councils start to crack down on the culprits.

Councils around the county are using the new powers granted to them and are issuing fixed penalties on those illegally dumping waste.

Figures show Carlisle City Council issued eight notices and collected £1,738 between May 9, 2016 - when the government gave local authorities these powers - and May 8, this year. During the same period Barrow Borough Council also issued eight notices and collected £800 and Eden District Council made four notices and collected £800.

South Lakeland District Council and Allerdale Borough Council issued no fixed penalties between these dates.

No details for Copeland Borough Council were recorded in the data, which was generated from a Freedom of Information request.

From the 297 English councils which responded with figures, data showed more than 4,600 fixed penalty notices were issued, collecting at least £773,000 for the offence.

Councils can issue penalties of between £150 to £400 to those caught in the act of fly-tipping instead of having to take them to court. London boroughs made up most of the top 10 local authorities who had issued the most fixed penalties, with Westminster topping the responses having handed out 787 fines and collected around £130,000, according to council estimates.

Some councils have started using them more recently or are planning to use them, while smaller fines for littering continue to be used for low-level waste problems and more serious cases end up in prosecutions.

Carlisle city councillor Chris Southward, the portfolio holder for environment and transport, said: “We want to work in partnership with residents to crack down on fly-tipping. One of our priority areas is to Keep Carlisle Clean and we urge residents to contact us with any information which could help us find those who dump rubbish.

“The introduction of fixed penalties for fly-tipping has allowed us take quick action against those who fly-tip. We’re always looking at ways of improving our services and we have introduced new ways to tackle fly-tipping, including the improved use of CCTV.

“Over the past year we have also had several successful prosecutions through the courts, resulting in large fines being imposed. Fly-tipping is an unnecessary nuisance and is a criminal offence which could result in hefty fines for those who are caught out.”

Across England, the number of fly-tipping incidents has risen for three years in a row, government figures show, with councils reporting 936,090 cases in 2015/2016, up four per cent on the previous year. Clearing up fly-tipped rubbish cost councils almost £50m in 2015/2016, while enforcement action cost nearly £17m.

Local Government Association environment spokesman Martin Tett said it was wrong that councils had to spend "vast amounts" a year tackling the problem at a time when they continued to face significant funding pressures.

The move by the government to allow councils to apply fixed penalty notices for small scale fly-tipping - in response to requests from town halls - had been a "big step in the right direction" to help crack down on fly-tippers, he said.

But he said councils may still feel prosecutions were the most effective course of action.

He 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."

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