Morecambe residents want more action over fly-tipping blight on their streets

Residents in Morecambe's West End are growing increasingly frustrated by an increase in fly-tipping on their doorsteps.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Friday, 28th January 2022, 2:59 pm

According to latest figures from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Lancaster district saw 2,827 incidents of fly-tipping during 2020/21, compared with 1,942 during 2019/20.

Clean-up bills per incident average around £1,000, according to the National Rural Crime Network, but large-scale incidents can cost upwards of £10,000.

And in Morecambe, Coun David Whitaker, whose Harbour ward is the worst affected, said residents are frustrated by what feels like a lack of action.

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Some of the fly-tipping in the West End of Morecambe. Photo: Coun David Whitaker

"I have been highlighting this for a while now," he said. "It's an ongoing problem and there never seems to be a solution to it.

"A lot of the back streets in the West End are suffering from overnight fly-tipping. It then gets in a state the next day or the day after."

Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste on land not licensed to receive it. It can range from a black bag of household rubbish to multiple lorry loads of building waste. If you (or your waste carrier) are caught fly-tipping, you can be issued with a £400 fixed penalty notice.

Every householder, business and landowner is responsible for the proper removal of waste from their property.

Some of the fly-tipping in the West End of Morecambe. Photo: Coun David Whitaker

Dumping waste illegally carries a fine of up to £50,000 (unlimited if the case goes to crown court) and a prison sentence of up to five years.

There can also be offences committed by others before the fly-tip, such as permitting the fly-tip or causing the fly-tip, and the sanctions are the same as actually doing the fly-tipping.

And if a vehicle is involved, there are offences relating to the controller of the vehicle.

Coun Whitaker said he has met with council officers to discuss the issue.

Some of the fly-tipping in the West End of Morecambe. Photo: Coun David Whitaker

"I am working with the council officers and they are trying their best but there are no realistic solutions coming forward," he said.

"No other wards seem to have such a problem and residents are really frustrated and feeling short-changed.

"All we want is clean and tidy neighbourhoods.

"The council send people out to clean it up but it can take longer than it should do because of a backlog.

Some of the fly-tipping in the West End of Morecambe. Photo: Coun David Whitaker

"There's also a problem with people's rubbish falling over and littering the alleys.

"We are getting assurances that it will be looked at more in terms of education but I just fear we don't have the resources to address it at the moment.

"It's a massive task to keep coming out and cleaning it all. We need a dedicated team for the West End with a lorry that can collect it on a daily basis to clear it up, and better enforcement to try to detect where it is coming from."

Ideas such as a CCTV strategy or an unmarked car monitoring the area have been mooted.

Coun Whitaker said changes to pricing at the tip have exacerbated the problem, and said it is particularly frustrating to residents in areas such as Alexandra Square, where there is a community group trying to tidy the area up.

"Residents of the West End have to contend with this on a daily and weekly basis, and I want to see some positive results because enough is enough," he said.

Coun Dave Brookes, cabinet member with responsibility for environmental services, said: “Fly-tipping happens for a number of reasons, from confusion or carelessness about when and where to present household waste at one end of the scale, to cynical organised crime by rogue waste carriers at the other end.

“Even so, fly-tipping is a criminal offence which costs the council more than £150,000 each year to clear up. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and a variety of tactics need to be employed to tackle it.

“Sharing the frustration felt by those living and working in areas where fly-tipping is a regularly occurrence, the council continues to use both education and enforcement (where there is sufficient evidence to do so), whilst needing to provide a dedicated fly-tipping removal service to ensure neighbourhoods remain safe and clean.

“Officers have developed a ward-specific plan for Harbour Ward with a large number of actions, some of which have been implemented, with others to follow over the short to medium term. These include making sure that residents are aware of their collection day and how to present their waste.

“Increased capacity communal recycling facilities have been provided to reduce problems with side waste at collection points and the council has been promoting Freegle as an additional and efficient way for residents to dispose of unwanted household items for free.

“Whilst we develop our plan to deal with the problem of fly-tipping in hotspots in the district such as the West End of Morecambe, we would urge everyone to help us catch those responsible by reporting what they know or have seen to the council so the most appropriate action can be taken.

“You can do this online at lancaster.gov.uk/fly-tipping, email [email protected] or call them on 01524 582491. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence.”