Huge cost to the public purse of fly-tipping and litter in Wigan borough

Fly-tipped waste in Norley in 2018
Fly-tipped waste in Norley in 2018

Selfish fly-tipping and littering is costing Wigan taxpayers millions of pounds a year, a shock report reveals.

A major new proposal to make the borough “litter-free” in the next 10 years shows the extent of the problem, which costs the council on average an eye-watering £4m annually to clear up.

Members of Wigan Council’s “confident places” scrutiny committee made recommendations for the 2030 litter methodology strategy during a meeting this week.

The committee was asked to approve the plan and agree to the appointment of experts who can help to roll the litter plan out across the borough.

An accompanying report published to the town hall’s website, read: “One of the strongest themes that came out of the Deal 2030 consultation was around litter and cleanliness, residents want to see cleaner streets.

“Wigan have responded to this feedback and have already set out a bold ambition to be litter free by 2030, this strategy will support us to deliver our ambitions.

“Wigan Council currently spends over £4m per year taking litter off our streets, parks and greenspaces, this includes £800,000 on fly-tipping alone.

“We see the Litter Strategy as an opportunity to bring about behaviour change while improving our local environment.

“If we can deliver the strategy successfully it will mean more money can be invested in our frontline services to add value and make the borough a better place to live.”

The strategy, if approved, will focus on engaging key community groups, children and young people and will aim at “preventing” littering rather than cleaning it up.

The council hopes to raise the profile of the impacts of littering and to change people’s behaviour, creating “responsible citizens”.

One of the tactics will be to “empower community individuals, formal and informal groups, schools and colleges.”

If the recommendations are approved a draft strategy is expected to be completed by October.

Carl Sweeney, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “Every pound of taxpayers’ money spent clearing up after people who drop rubbish on our streets or greenspaces is a pound that could have been invested in our schools, enhancing our open spaces or caring for people in need.

“We want to change the culture towards litter, too often we have to be reactive when it comes to waste removal, this strategy aims to change this and focus more on preventative action to help reduce litter and fly-tipping happening in the future.”

A consultation and engagement is set to take place in 2020 and the “zero litter plan” is expected to be rolled out through a series of workshops the same year.