WEST Berkshire Council spent almost £30,000 on cleaning up illegally dumped waste between July and December 2016, new figures reveal.
The cash-strapped council cleared away a total of 543 fly-tipping sites over the last six months of the year, costing an estimated £29,125.
According to figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request the number of reported incidents rose by almost 10 per cent compared to the first six months of 2016, with 493 instances of fly-tipping reported in the first half of the year.
In July, a permit scheme was introduced to stop West Berkshire residents using Smallmead Recycling Centre – located just a short drive across the district boundary in Reading.
The move was in response to West Berkshire Council’s decision to withdraw a £460,000 annual payment to Re3, which runs the facility.
As well as the overall number of fly-tipping incidents rising during the six months that followed, the number of car boot-loads and small van-loads that were illegally dumped in West Berkshire significantly increased from 316 (January to June 2016) to 393 (July to December 2016) – a 20 per cent rise.
The cost of disposing of these smaller loads alone rose from £6,121 to £9,530.
David Marsh, of West Berkshire Green Party, said: “It isn’t just about the money, it’s about quality of life – people don’t want a load of rubbish dumped on their doorstep.
“There’s no doubt at all that fly-tipping has increased since West Berkshire had the problems with the other councils last year.
“It’s been a complete shambles and it’s hardly surprising.
“People had to wait for their permits and then there was confusion about which recycling centre to use.
“This all stems from West Berkshire Council and neighbouring councils not looking at the bigger picture and realising it was in the interests of residents to come up with a scheme to allow them to use their nearest tip.”
Following the Smallmead ban, West Berkshire Council then decided to introduce its own permit scheme in September, banning residents in Reading and Hampshire from using the West Berkshire recycling facilities.
Despite an increase in the number of overall incidents, the cost of clearing away illegally dumped rubbish actually fell, with the council estimating a clean-up cost of £32,864 between January and June 2016, with more spent on clearing away large lorry loads in this period.
Executive member for waste, Dominic Boeck, said: “Our latest fly-tipping data does not show any significant increase since permits were introduced.
“Fly-tipping varies both annually and between seasons, but instances of fly-tipping in West Berkshire are consistent with both our neighbouring councils and other similar authorities.
“This is encouraging as it shows that the permit scheme has been able to deliver savings without a detrimental impact on the environment.
“I expected that our residents would be responsible in disposing of their waste properly and am pleased that these latest figures support this.”