Suffolk: Councils urged to increase fines to deter would-be fly-tippers

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COUNCILS have been urged to increase fines to solve the “disgusting” problem of fly-tipping after it was revealed taxpayers spent more than £150,000 in ridding the streets of rubbish.

Figures show council chiefs spent £151,151 dealing with 2,427 fly-tipping offences in Suffolk in 2011/12. But only £4,953 was reclaimed in fines – just 9%.

And after it was announced on Thursday that prolific fly-tippers could face up to three years in prison under new guidelines unveiled to judges, Suffolk officials came under pressure to raise fines to deter repeat offenders.

A Campaign to Protect Rural England spokesman said: “For there to be around 2,400 incidents in one county is just disgusting.

“Local authorities are in a really difficult place and fly-tipping just means their budgets and resources are further eroded.

“Fly-tipping is incredibly unsightly for residents and it is unfair that they have to live and work there way around the rubbish.

“More needs to be done and fines are not pernicious enough to deter people from reoffending. Councils need to look into it and should do more.

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“The prosecution rate is generally quite low across the country, not just in Suffolk. People see it as an easy crime and think they can get away with it.”

The government figures showed Suffolk Coastal, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils recorded 340, 233 and 134 incidents respectively last year – a fall from 422, 339 and 237 in 2010/11.

Ipswich Borough Council saw a drop from 596 to 499, while Waveney District Council recorded the most incidents in Suffolk last year with 759 offences, placing them 176th out of 326 local councils in England.

Countryside campaigners Countryside Alliance said the cost to taxpayers of clearing up the mess was over £40million nationally in 2011 – more than £66,000 a day.

Julian Roughton, chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “It is unacceptable behaviour and blights our enjoyment and experience of the Suffolk’s beautiful countryside.

“But there is a growing problem of people chucking bottles, cans and general trash out of their cars and more needs to be done to curb that as well.”

Fly-tipping can be household waste, commercial waste and construction, demolition and excavation waste.

Under the proposals unveiled on Thursday by the Sentencing Council, which gives guidance to the courts, large businesses would face fines of up to £2million for illegally dumping waste and rubbish.

Small companies, such as a family waste removal business, would face fines of between £450 and £2,000 for minor offences, going up to £70,000 for causing serious harm.

Sir Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance, said: “We need a plan which ensures fly-tippers are caught and punished. Local authorities and landowners bear the brunt of the cost of clearing up the mess and need more support.

“Fly-tipping blights our countryside and endangers wildlife and habitats.”

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