Tue, 14 Nov 2017
WEST Berkshire taxpayers paid almost £70,000 last year to clean up the mess left by fly-tippers.
Fridges and freezers, tyres, vehicle parts, clinical and household waste and dozens of black binbags had to be cleared away from the district’s roads and beauty spots, costing the council a total of £69,090 in 2016/17.
West Berkshire Council dealt with 1,073 instances of fly-tipping during the last financial year, an increase of 101 from the previous year, according to recent Government figures.
The local authority has said there is no link between the increase and the introduction of permit entry systems at its tips in 2016.
In the last five years, West Berkshire saw the highest number of fly-tipping occurrences during the financial year 2013/14, when there were 1,108 cases.
However, there was significant fall in fly-tipping in 2014/15 (1,084) and 2015/16 (972) before an increase last year, resulting in the largest spend on the clean-up in the last five years.
Council spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton said: “In terms of fly-tip numbers, 16/17 was in line with those for 2014/15.
“Although 15/16 was down slightly, there is no evidence to link the small increase in 16/17 to HWRC permit introduction.”
In 2016, West Berkshire Council announced it would be introducing permit systems at the Newtown Road Recycling Centre in Newbury and the Padworth Recycling Centre, to limit access to permit-holding West Berkshire residents only.
The move came after Reading introduced a similar system at the Smallmead tip, just over the district border, preventing many West Berkshire residents from using the service.
The change meant residents of areas such as Theale and Burghfield face a 30-mile round trip to Newbury to dispose of household waste.
The council is still looking to expand the service at Padworth to provide a household waste disposal service in the east of the district.
The local authority also came under fire recently after introducing charges at its tips for the disposal of non-household waste.
However, West Berkshire Council executive member for culture and environment Dominic Boeck labelled those claiming that an increase in fly-tipping was linked to the council’s actions as “irresponsible scaremongers”.
Responding to the latest figures he said: “There is no evidence to link the latest figures to the introduction of HWRC Permits.
“Permits are common practice across the UK and the majority of people take a responsible approach to disposing of their waste.
“Fly-tipping is a criminal activity which took place prior to the introduction of permits and sadly, there is always likely to be a small number of individuals who give no thought to others or to the environment.”
In May 2016, local authorities were given greater powers to clamp down on fly-tippers by issuing penalty notices of between £150 and £400.
And despite the rise in fly-tipping last year, West Berkshire Council took the lowest number of actions against those conducting the illegal practice.
The figures show just 61 actions were taken by the council, including 33 investigations and 26 warning letters.
No fines or penalty notices were issued.
By way of comparison, Reading Borough Council, which dealt with 3,066 cases of fly-tipping, carried out 2,803 investigations and issued 109 fixed penalty notices.
Slough Borough Council, which saw fewer fly-tipping cases than Wets Berkshire (534), carried out 466 investigations and issued eight fixed penalty notices.
However, West Berkshire Council insisted the local authority was doing everything in its power to clamp down on fly- tipping and said it will prosecute whenever possible.