As part of an update to South Tyneside Council’s Place Select Committee this week, council officers confirmed that fly-tipping was on the rise locally and regionally.
Fly-tipping is defined as the illegal dumping of liquid or solid waste on land or in water, usually dumped to avoid disposal costs.
Between April and November 2021, there were hundreds of reports for investigation of fly-tipping in South Tyneside as well as fixed penalty notices being issued and a range of successful and pending prosecutions.
In its enforcement drive to catch litter louts and discourage fly-tipping, South Tyneside Council has been working with other local authorities, Northumbria Police and housing associations to gather intelligence.
At a local level, the council also aims to “disrupt” activities and promote “behavioural change,” as well as seizing vehicles used for illegal waste dumping in certain cases.
While praising the work of South Tyneside Council staff some councillors said more education was needed to reduce the pressures of fly-tipping on the local authority, especially in back lanes.
For councillor Doreen Purvis, this included educating residents on how to dispose of their waste correctly and challenging the “misconception” that the council will automatically collect items.
“There is this misconception that if you want shot of something, be it a fridge freezer or a black bag full of rubbish, you just put it in the back lane and the fairies and pixies will come and remove it,” Cllr Purvis told the meeting.
“In fact I have heard from [South Tyneside Homes] Handy Estates staff that if they’re out picking stuff up there are people coming out saying ‘take this.’
“I do think we need to be getting the message across to people that you don’t just chuck stuff in the back lane and by a miracle it disappears.”
Cllr Purvis added: “We have also got these waste disposal firms which are proliferating like weeds on the internet offering to take rubbish away.
“I’m sure some of them might be genuine but I know there was one individual who was charged money and they [the firm] were dumping the waste in somebody’s back lane.”
She added: “The people who paid to have the rubbish taken away were absolutely mortified to find it had ended up in a back lane.
“So there is still an awful lot of work to be done but I do think we have really got to hammer home that it isn’t good enough to just think that someone will come and get rid of waste.”
As part of the presentation to the scrutiny panel on Tuesday, January 25, James Maughan, service lead for community protection, outlined schemes and campaigns the council had already brought forward.
This included ‘we’re watching you posters’ encouraging people to report fly-tipping, information letter drops in certain areas and working with tenants, leaseholders and freeholders to find solutions to waste dumping issues on problem sites.
Looking forward, council officers aim to continue schemes educating residents on expectations around waste disposal, with a key focus on “responsibility”.
Councillor Wilf Flynn added this was important in the context of South Tyneside residents potentially facing legal consequences when paying private companies to dispose of waste.
Cllr Flynn went on to say: “There was a well-known construction company that was actually taking people’s rubbish and dumping it and they actually got their vehicle confiscated.
“So the message to the public is, it might seem a good idea to get your rubbish taken away rather than go through legitimate means.
“But when that piece of paper has got your name and address on it, or it has some code that the council can take the time to bottom, because it has come from a company, you will face a day in court and it’s not worth it.”
More information on bulky waste collections can be found on the council’s website: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/33410/Bulky-waste-collections