Walking down Abbeydale Road in Sheffield, a problem with fly-tipping is not immediately obvious.
The busy street is lined with houses and businesses and, while there is litter, the main road seems like any other main city gateway.
But once off the main track the reasons why 100 complaints – the most of any single street – were made about fly-tipping problems to Sheffield Council in the last three years become clearer.
Complaints have steadily risen – from 18 in 2012 to 35 in 2013 and then 47 last year.
At the back of Broadfield Park there is a pile of discarded bricks, mixed with decaying household waste, dozens of margarine tub lids and a fire extinguisher.
Along the riverside, carrier bags strangle trees, cans and bottles line the bank.
“It’s an environmental health hazard and needs to be looked into,” says one woman visiting her elderly mum on Leyburn Road, which leads to the park.
“It’s a massive problem but what can we do about it? I have seen rats – that’s what happens when there is so much rubbish and it is always like that in the park.”
Beds and even an American-style fridge have been left on the park, said A&R Tradeprint owner Clive Jaques, whose office backs on to the land.
He added: “We called the council and in two or three hours they fetched it. We get rats around here all the time. I think the solution is about educating people and the council doing something.
“The easiest thing would be to get rid of the tipping fees because there wasn’t such a problem before.”
Further out on Abbeydale Road, fly-tippers have left a heap of bulging bags of household waste next to the bins of another local firm.
It means staff at Hadfield Electrical often have to take litter to their homes to dispose of, because binmen will not take the extra rubbish.
Lee Warner, who works at the store, said: “It happens every week – during the night when there is nobody here. We’ve got used to it.
“The binmen came on Monday and didn’t take the rubbish. We take some stuff home and put it in our own bins. Every now and then we have to go to the tip but we can only go so many times.”
Many people browsing the shops or heading to work said they were ‘surprised’ Abbeydale Road had the highest number of complaints – and said graffiti was more common.
But resident Adam Newbould, aged 33, said: “Rubbish is dumped mostly on the side streets or industrial land. It is just dirty – it’s not nice to look at. The council do try to clear it up but I know it is a struggle. We had a skip on our street for ages and people seemed to throw anything in there.”
Mick Daniels, chairman of Brushes Tenants’ and Residents, Firth Park, said: “There are a couple of areas near Upwell Street which are a disgrace – I am fed up with trying to tell people.
“It is a blight and it is the first thing anybody going to the Northern General sees.
“Fly-tipping is dragging the city down. I’ve just cleared some from my estate – but I know it will be back within 24 hours.”
Figures obtained from Sheffield Council show fly-tipping is often prevalent on roads close to green spaces.
Midhurst Road in Birley Edge, and Chippinghouse Road in Nether Edge, were the second highest streets for complaints.
Five roads located close together in Grimesthorpe also notched up more than 200 complaints between them from January 2012 to January 2014.
There have been 27 recent convictions for waste offences in Sheffield, with 10 cautions last year and eight so far in 2015.
Mike Parry, manager of the council’s environmental enforcement team, said: “Fly-tipping is usually done under cover of darkness and where it is not busy so the crime is very difficult to catch in the act. What we do ask is that the public let us know of any fly-tipping they see. If they have a vehicle registration number that is really helpful or they may be able to describe the people doing it. The most important thing for the public is to remain safe.
“We have had quite a few prosecutions in the past few years but they have to be based on proper evidence, as it is a criminal offence. We take people to magistrates’ court for it so we can’t go there with something that is not concrete.”
Mr Parry said fly-tipping was ‘frustrating’ but the majority of people disposed of waste properly.
He urged people not to use unofficial methods of disposal, as often these so-called firms take money and then dump the waste.
“Sometimes we can trace waste back to the household or business and they then run into difficulties. In good faith they have paid someone to take it away and think it will be disposed of properly, but it has been dumped.”
The worst ten roads for complaints:
Abbeydale Road, 100 complaints
Midhurst Road, Birley Edge, 88 complaints
Chippinghouse Road, Nether Edge, 65 complaints
Robey Street, Grimesthorpe,59 complaints
Wade Street, Grimesthorpe,44 complaints
Bolsover Road, Grimesthorpe, 41 complaints
Ecclesall Road, 32 complaints
Lloyd Street, Grimesthorpe, 31 complaints
Popple Street, Grimesthorpe, 29 complaints
Staniforth Road, Darnall, 27 complaints
What you’ve been saying online:
Frances Barkworth: “Grenoside woods is a nightmare, it’s distressing, when there are council tips.”
Katherine Hallows: “People are regularly tipping in Scholes village. It is disgusting.”
Graham Rabjohn: “Sheffield is a disgrace when it comes to litter. Start fining people and things will improve.”
James Merrylees: “I can’t understand the mentality of someone who does this. It makes me furious.”
Daz Marsden: “The council should open up tips to small vans, that would stop a lot of it.”