THOUSANDS of fly-tippers in the Portsmouth area are costing taxpayers almost £350,000 – with only a handful of culprits ever being punished, fresh figures have shown.
In the past three years, 8,811 incidents of people illegally dumping rubbish have been reported to councils in Havant, Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth, with the total clear-up bill mounting to £346,059.
I think its an absolute travesty that over £108,000 of public money has ben spent on picking up people’s rubbish.Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council leader
But despite the high numbers, only 13 people have been successfully prosecuted by authorities since 2012.
It’s a situation that Portsmouth’s council leader has called a ‘travesty’.
The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request of 200 councils, which suggests there has been a rise in the number of people illegally dumping waste in England.
The study revealed that Portsmouth City Council had paid £108,996 to deal with 2,598 reports of fly-tipping in the city’s streets since 2012.
Tory council leader Donna Jones said: ‘It’s an absolute travesty that over £108,000 of public money has been spent on picking up people’s rubbish.
‘That money should have been spent on education and vulnerable people.’
People caught fly-tipping could face a maximum fine of £5,000. The city council did not successfully prosecute anyone between 2012 and 2015.
But Cllr Jones said the city had seen a slim decline in the amount of rubbish being illegally dumped.
She felt this was due to the introduction of new collection charges, which in turn have funded more ‘bulky waste’ collections across Portsmouth.
Speaking about the issue, she added: ‘I’m disappointed but not surprised.’
Elsewhere, Havant Borough Council reporting the highest number of instances locally – 3,915 since 2012.
It cost the council £23,244 each year to deal with the illegal dumpers which is the lowest of all the area’s councils.
The authority has prosecuted the lion’s share of offenders, with 12 people being punished all in the past year.
Councillor Tony Briggs, deputy leader of Havant Borough Council, said he was determined to stamp out the issue but admitted this would not be an easy task.
‘If we catch them we will prosecute them, there’s no question,’ he said. ‘The difficulty is identifying the perpetrators.’
He explained the reason why the figure was so high for Havant was due to the council’s zero-tolerance campaign towards litter and fly-tipping.
He said many more people were now reporting incidents to the council.
Cllr Briggs added the authority is still struggling to identify culprits as most of the dumping was done at night time.
Regarding the cost to the taxpayer, he said: ‘Any cost in picking up litter by filthy, dirty people is too much.’
Fareham Borough Council has seen a total of 1,034 incidents at a cost of £89,299 with only one person being prosecuted in the three years.
Councillor Trevor Cartwright, Fareham’s cabinet member for public protection said fly-tipping was not a ‘massive problem’.
‘Unfortunately, some people choose to dump their rubbish elsewhere which not only ruins our environment and causes pollution, but can also be dangerous to people and wildlife,’ he added.
Gosport Borough Council recorded 1,255, costing the taxpayer £78,032. Again, no-one was prosecuted.
At a national level, it cost more than £16.2m in 2014/2015 to deal with fly-tippers, up from just under £16m the previous year and £13.6m in 2012/2013.
The number of prosecutions for fly-tipping also rose last year, up from 982 in 2013/2014 to 1,216 in 2014/2015, the information from the councils shows.