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Agenda item

Illegal Dumping, Enforcement and Household Waste Recycling Centres

This report updates Members regarding the level of dumping, enforcement against offenders, and policy changes at Kent County Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres.

 

Minutes:

The joint report from the Waste & Parks and Enforcement & Regulatory Services Managers, updated Members regarding the level of illegal dumping and fly tipping in Dartford, the enforcement measures being taken against offenders, and the policy changes at Kent County Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs). Appendix A to the report comprised a table setting out reported incidences of illegal dumping/fly tipping on a monthly basis for the years 2015/16 to 2019/20 [to date].

 

The Chairman advised Members that he had requested the report to enable the Committee to focus on how the Council was meeting these continuing challenges common to all local authorities in Kent. He stressed that his request for an update report did not imply any criticism of Council Officers or the existing measures being taken to address these core issues. He made no judgement that the Council’s efforts to address illegal dumping were better or worse than those of neighbouring Kent Boroughs.

 

That said, he wanted Dartford to be known as the best local authority in Kent for the successful removal of fly tipping and illegally dumped waste, and for the successful prosecution and fining of those committing such offences. To that end, his aim was to identify further positive measures which the Council could adopt to achieve that goal. The presence of the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Waste & Environment on the Committee would provide Members with additional expertise, in addition to a voice within Cabinet to add weight to any recommendations the Committee might resolve to put to the administration for consideration.

 

At the Chairman’s request, Members had received pictures of recent illegally dumped waste on the verges of some of the main arterial routes in Dartford. The Chairman proposed that the successful removal of such illegal dumping be publicised on the Council’s website (as it was in local papers), to help raise the Council’s profile in successfully tackling the issue. He also advocated the increased use of press releases by the Council, to make the public better aware of ‘success stories’ where such fly tipping had been removed and offenders prosecuted and fined.

 

The Waste & Parks Manager advised Members that the Council website provided statistics on illegal dumping in the Borough, it also asked the public to help in reporting those incidents, and provided details of the Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) fining regime in force for illegal dumping offences, including fining the public for using illegal waste carriers. He assured Members that the Council took every opportunity to publicise the details of successful prosecutions against illegal dumping and fly tipping, including ‘naming and shaming’ offenders in Council press releases, when they were convicted by the courts.

 

The following principal points were confirmed by the Waste & Parks Manager in further discussion with Members:

 

·         The number of prosecutions brought by the Council in the courts for illegal dumping, as a percentage figure of the total number of FPNs issued, was not known by the Waste & Parks Manager. However, given the higher degree of proof required by the Council to bring a court prosecution, FPNs remained the most frequently used and effective Council deterrent to combat illegal dumping and fly tipping;

·         The Council used covert CCTV cameras at known fly-tipping hotspots and some re-cycling centres, and it was proposed to extend the use of CCTV cameras across the borough, to aid court prosecutions and the issue of FPNs;

·         KCC’s new charges and restrictions at household waste recycling centres (HWRCs), for quantities of some household and other waste, had been raised by the Council with the County authority. In particular, the public’s stated belief that the new KCC charges and restrictions had led to an increase in illegal dumping and fly tipping. KCC had rejected the theory that the two issues were directly connected, and there was (as yet) no empirical evidence that KCC’s new charging policies at HWRCs had led directly to increased levels of illegal dumping in the borough, although it was possible that the two issues were not unrelated [report para 3.8 agenda p.44 refers];

·         Better signage at HWRCs concerning the new charges and height restrictions for vehicles, allied to the re-arrangement of existing re-cycling banks at HWRCs, could help prevent impromptu fly tipping by disappointed/disaffected customers. Advertising the boundaries covered by existing HWRCs to the public could also help to positively impact on the actions of potential fly tippers;

·         The arrangement between Parishes and the Council, whereby Parish authorities initially collected dumped articles, for eventual removal by the Council contractor, continued to operate successfully;

·         The data published by the Council for collection of illegally dumped waste only related to waste identified as the Council’s responsibility for removal. The actual level of illegal dumping and fly tipping in the borough was higher, but fell outside the Council’s responsibility e.g. on privately owned land;

·         The Council had undertaken boundary fencing of open land adjacent to arterial routes to prevent fly tipping, where the land in question was owned by the Council. However, supervision of slip roads, hard shoulder and grass verge access to the vast majority of such land was the responsibility of KCC and Highways England.

 

In response to further specific proposals and questions from the Chairman, the Strategic Director (External Services) gave the following responses:

 

·         A free collection service by the Council of larger household articles [not accepted by HWRCs] on a trial basis would have financial implications and would need to be explored through the normal annual budget process;

·         Activation of the Community Trigger mechanism [to combat repeated/exceptional instances of fly tipping], was a matter for the partner agencies of the Dartford & Gravesham Community Safety Partnership (CSP), not the Committee. Moreover, if illegal dumping was cleared, the Community Trigger mechanism ceased to apply;

·         On a positive note, the Council were in discussions with KCC to give DBC Park Rangers Waste Carrier Licences, to enable them to remove smaller items illegally dumped in Dartford’s parks;

·         The Council had a number of CCTV cameras at fly tipping hotspots and HWRCs including mobile, fixed and covert cameras. The location of the CCTV cameras could not be divulged for operational reasons, but the public were made aware of their existence in general terms, via warning signage.

 

The Chairman thanked the Strategic Director (External Services) and the Waste & Parks Manager for their comprehensive responses to Members questions and expression of concern, which he summarised in the following bullet points for consideration and appropriate action by Cabinet:

 

·         Increased use of Council press releases and twitter feed direct to Councillors, for re-tweeting and distribution to their constituents  to heighten the impact and public awareness of Council ‘success stories’ in combatting fly tipping, illegal dumping and the prosecution of offenders;

·         Councillors to be given case studies of successful fly tipping prosecutions;

·         To secure Waste Carrier Licences for DBC Park Rangers from KCC;

·         That new charges and restrictions by KCC at HWRCs be accepted, and that the Council take measures to better educate residents to these new measures which, at present, were not seen as a root cause for the increase in fly tipping and illegal dumping in the borough;

·         That the Waste & Parks Team and the Council’s Enforcement and Regulatory Services Teams be congratulated on their efforts to date;

·         That Cabinet consider what other measures the Council might take to further combat fly tipping and illegal dumping in the borough and secure a higher rate of successful prosecutions against offenders.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.    That Members note the contents of the report;

 

2.    That Cabinet note the ongoing concerns of the Committee, as summarised by the Chairman in his comments minuted above;

 

3.    That Councillor Edie’s view that; new KCC charges and restrictions at HWRCs have led to a rise in fly tipping and illegal dumping in the borough; be recorded in the Minutes.

 

 

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