Fly-tipping divides opinion following new charges to tips

Ashley Mooney's fly-tipping in Gosport
Ashley Mooney's fly-tipping in Gosport
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Not only do innocent council taxpayers pay the price, but it makes areas an eyesore.

Ashley Mooney

Ashley Mooney

Ray Cobbett, from Havant Friends of the Earth also says that fly-tipping can have a detrimental effect on the environment.

He says: ‘Things like old paint and that kind of stuff comes out of people’s homes and if it gets near streams or water, can affect wildlife.

‘Fly-tipping can have other ramifications. It’s another opportunity to recycle lost.

‘Trade people should have to pay for the recycling units as it is part of their overheads.’

It costs more to dump a piece of plasterboard at the tip than it does to buy it

Gosport Councillor Peter Chegwyn

Politicians locally and nationally are taking a stricter approach to anyone caught fly-tipping.

Powers passed by the government in May last year have enabled councils across the country to give out higher on the spot penalties of between £150 and £400 to anyone caught fly-tipping.

Critics believe changes in tip charges have caused fly-tipping to increase.

In October last year, Hampshire County Council brought in charges to get rid of items such as soil, rubble, plasterboard and cement-bonded asbestos, ranging from £2.50 to £10.

Charges were soon introduced in Portsmouth, with Cllr Rob New, cabinet member for the environment, saying the council had to follow suit otherwise the Port Solent tip would become too busy.

As reported by The News, figures from a Freedom of Information request show that Portsmouth City Council handed out just two fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping by the start of the January.

Gosport Borough Council issued the highest number of penalties in the region with four.

And both Havant Borough Council and Fareham Borough Council had both not handed out a single one.

This comes with a total of 216 fly-tipping incidents reported to Portsmouth in the same time frame and Gosport 544, although many were treated as littering offences which results in a fixed-penalty notice.

Havant Borough Council said it received 916 fly-tipping reports in 2016 whilst Fareham Borough had 174 reports between May 2015 and the end of January.

Former city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the authority is becoming out of touch with fly-tipping and it has increased as people do not want to pay for what they previously got for free.

The Lib Dem said: ‘The council says fly-tipping figures are not a problem.

‘But when I talk to residents across the city that is not what they say at all.

‘Our job is to have decent services for Portsmouth residents and that is not happening.’

‘And if that means different charges for the people of Portsmouth, then that’s how it is.’

Gosport councillor Peter Chegwyn said he gets fly-tipping complaints on a daily basis since the tip charges were introduced.

He said: ‘It is costing the council more to clear up any fly-tipping sites than the revenue from the charges.

‘But it is the county council getting the money from the charges and the borough council cleaning up the mess.

‘It’s hitting those who responsibly take their rubbish to the mess and giving the irresponsible an excuse to dump things.

‘The solution is simple – go back to the old system.

‘It costs more to dump a piece of plasterboard at the tip than it does to buy it.’

Gosport councillor Rob Hylands dubbed the charges as a ‘false economy’ and believes they will cost the taxpayer more money in the long run.

But Cllr Rob Humby, executive member for transport and environment at the county council, said residents can still bring household waste to recycling centres free of charge and charges only apply to non-household items.

Cllr Humby said: ‘We brought in charges for these materials last year as a way of being fair to all of Hampshire’s council taxpayers, enabling us to keep all of Hampshire’s 24 centres open at a time of severe financial reductions in government grant. Non-household waste is expensive for councils to dispose of, and the charges at recycling centres have been set to only cover the cost of handling and disposing of these materials. No local authority has any legal obligation to accept non-household waste material.

‘The county council is responsible for the costs of disposing of all domestic waste in Hampshire, including waste which has been dumped illegally on public land and collected by our district colleagues.

‘Our data suggests that there has been a slight but steady decrease in fly-tipping around Hampshire in the last three months, and we continue to work closely with our partners to tackle fly-tipping by improving reporting and prosecutions, as well as helping residents and businesses understand their own duty of care and liability when employing any business to take away their waste.’

Portsmouth City Council environment cabinet member Cllr New added that there is a significant crackdown on fly-tipping across the city.

Cllr New said: ‘It would not have been fair on the taxpayer if we did not match Hampshire as people from surrounding areas would use the tips.

‘Despite what people say, it is only non-household waste that cannot be dumped, so things like televisions and mattresses can still be taken.

‘We have created our clean cities team that do not just deal with fly-tipping but other things such as educating the public as we do not want to be handing out these sort of penalties. People can report flying tipping by our council app and clean cities officers will be out within 24 hours to clean the mess.’

As reported by The News, Ashley Mooney was given a 12-month custodial sentence for fly-tipping across Hampshire.

Mooney touted for business on Facebook trading as A&M Waste Clearance, charging up to £150 a time to take away rubbish.

He was branded the ‘worst fly-tipper ever’ by Gosport Borough councillor Graham Burgess as Mooney cost councils in the area £8,916 to clear up his mess while investigation costs reached £16,702.