Fly-tipping probes cost borough more than £22k

Fly-tipping outside a charity centre in Atherton
Fly-tipping outside a charity centre in Atherton

Fly-tipping investigations cost Wigan taxpayers £22,000 last year but nothing was recuperated in fines, figures have revealed.

A report released recently by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed that in 2015/16, the council spent £22,605 on 685 investigations into fly-tipping across the borough out of 2,400 reported cases.

Despite a national increase in offences, the overall picture of fly-tipping incidents in Wigan has improved from 2,582 the 12 months before, when more than £29,000 was spent on investigations, with again no money gained from the results.

Paul Barton, assistant director for environmental services at Wigan council, said: “Fly-tipping ruins our communities and annually costs the council £800,000 which equates to nearly one per cent council tax.

“We take this matter very seriously which is why we investigate cases where rubbish has been dumped. These figures do not take into account the introduction of fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping which came into force last year which has proven successful for us with numerous fines handed out to those caught fly-tipping.”

However, in January 2017, the Post reported that only a handful of “on the spot” penalties had been dished out despite the council’s newly-acquired powers.

As of May 2016, the authority was given powers to issue fixed penalty notices of between £150 and £400 to punish those committing smaller fly-tipping offences instead of taking them to court.

January figures revealed that only 11 of these fines had been handed out but many more cases had involved smokers appearing before Magistrates for dropping cigarette butts in the town centre.

Mr Barton added: “Tracking down perpetrators is not a simple process and involves much forensic work and these cases can take time to be resolved.

“We have had successful prosecutions in the past 12 months. This is thanks to residents who have helped us to gain convictions by giving evidence in court.

“Through The Deal, by residents not fly-tipping and recycling their waste correctly we can keep council tax low.

“We need residents to help us by reporting incidents and hotspots so we can carry out enforcement action and catch offenders.”

In the past three years monitored by Defra, the only period that recuperated costs from investigations carried out was 2013/14 when £1,000 was doled out in fines.