32% rise in fly-tipping

Dirty backyard: Fly-tipping at the rear of a property in  Bar Street, Burnley
Dirty backyard: Fly-tipping at the rear of a property in Bar Street, Burnley
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Burnley is one of the worst areas in the country for fly-tipping.

Illegally dumped fridges, sofas and mattresses are becoming an increasing part of the borough’s landscape with Government figures showing a 32.3% rise in incidents reported on the previous year.

According to Guardian data the town is now in the top 10 worst local authorities for incidents per 100 people – one of only two areas outside the capital.

However, Burnley Borough Council is doing its bit to help clean up the mess. The council is the second best authority in the country when it comes to prosecuting fly-tippers (107 last year), dishing out fines totalling near to £60,000 but with clean-up costs a startling £324,518 for 2013/14 – up £83,492 on 2012/13.

The issue is not just a local one with incidents throughout the UK rising by a fifth – the first increase in years – but Coun. Tony Harrison, Executive member for community services, is confident Burnley Council can keep on top of the problem. “Our excellent performance in tackling fly-tipping is a result of the council’s zero tolerance approach to fly-tipping. We investigate fly-tipping incidents and take action against those responsible whenever we can. As a result Burnley Council continues to be the second best authority in the country when it comes to prosecuting fly-tippers. Last year we brought 107 prosecutions, more than three times the rest of neighbouring authorities in East Lancashire combined. We are doing what we can to make our borough cleaner, greener and safer. Unfortunately there are still those who continue to fly-tip and spoil our borough for everyone else.”

Of the 5,201 fly-tipping incidents investigated in Burnley in 2013/14, more than half (2,730) of the rubbish was from households – a rise of 24.1% from the year before.

There was also a rise in the number of incidents reported on back alleyways with 1,641 investigations compared to 1,167 the year before. Highways, which nationally was where nearly half of all incidents occurred, accounted for only 2.9% of Burnley’s total.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who compile the data, had Burnley Council down as spending a total of £287,770 on enforcement.

Its figures showed that the council sent out a total of 1,309 warning letters during the year at an apparent cost of £43,197. However, costs attributed by Defra regarding enforcement such as sending out letters does not always reflect an accurate picture. Defra attributes a nominal sum to all authorities (£33 per action) whereas in reality sending out a letter costs a stamp and a few minutes of an officer’s time.

Joanne Swift, head of Streetscene at Burnley Council, said the figures can also be slightly misleading as a result of how the council classes what constitutes fly-tipping. “We record fly-tipping as anything from a bin bag in a back street to a wagon-load of rubbish dumped on a piece of land. Burnley Council encourages people to report any fly-tipping to us so that we can deal with it quickly and remove it so it no longer causes a blight on our communities.

“Residents can help us by reporting any suspicious behaviour or by providing information about anyone responsible for fly-tipping. They can do this online at www.burnley.gov.uk, by emailing Streetscene@burnley.gov.uk, or by phoning 425011. They can also report fly-tipping this way.”