An in-depth look at how fly-tipping is blighting one Sheffield neighbourhood

Has fly-tipping got worse since austerity hit?

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 10:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 10:28 am
Graham Sykes of Beighton Environment Group, Coun Ian Saunders, Julie Edmonds of Beighton Village Trust, Tracy Higginbottom, chair of Beighton Village Trust and Coun Chris Rosling-Josephs

That’s the feeling of residents in one Sheffield neighbourhood who say they are fighting a losing battle against fly-tippers who are blighting their neighbourhood.

Residents and local councillors in Beighton fear the problem will get even worse amid huge budget cuts at Sheffield Council.

Councillors Chris Rosling-Josephs and Ian Saunders

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Kitchen units, dining suites, beds and sound speakers are just some of the rubbish Sheffield residents have found dumped in their community.

Ken Crowder from Owlthorpe Community Forum says the size of the rubbish dumped is staggering.

“Litter implies cigarette packets and sweet wrappers thrown out of cars but we are clearing rubbish such as disco speakers,” he said.

“We had three speakers dumped in the woods and we’ve found dining suites, complete kitchens, beds, mattresses and tyres.

Sheffield Council says it will prosecute fly-tippers

“We’ve picked up a kitchen once and when we checked, it had an address from Dewsbury. We contacted the Environment Agency and this guy had fitted a kitchen and taken the old one out and just dropped it as he was passing through.

“We’re a semi rural area, it’s dark at night and not many people are about so they go there. It’s just criminality.

“We drag out the rubbish, we’re old but still strong enough, and move it to one of five locations which we have agreed with the council and they collect the items within 24 hours.

“The tips are just not open long enough, they need to be open later into the evening.”

Other residents echo the views that the council’s dump-it sites are not open enough. Graham Syke set up Beighton Environmental Group in 2003 in response to the litter problems and has been keeping the area clean for the best part of 15 years.

He said: “The problem is a lot of the recycling centres have reduced their hours but I think they should be open 24/7.

“It’s false economy not to have the tips open on a Tuesday. People will turn up and not realise it’s closed so will dump it elsewhere. The kitchen we picked up must have cost thousands of pounds.

“The problem is, if someone fly tips on private land, it then becomes the responsibility of the landowner. We have a member of the forum who is a farmer and he has this problem.

“Rather than remedial measures it would make much more sense to make the tips more accessible, especially at weekends.”

Kath Davis from Beighton Tenants and Residents Association agrees. “The recycling centres are open 10-4pm in winter and 10-6pm in summer and closed Sundays and one day in the week but it’s absolutely brain dead because some people turn up, find it closed so just dump their rubbish.

“There’s always a lot of fly tipping near the railway line. A few years ago the housing department used to have a bring out your rubbish day and it really cleared up a lot of rubbish.

“People would clear out their lofts and there would be mountains of stuff piled up on the side of the street. The council would move it so there was no issue with fly-tipping on our estate but the council can’t afford to play for that anymore.

“We have asked the council for skips but they can’t afford those either. Beighton TARA is only small and we only have £2,000 a year funding so we can’t afford to provide skips.”

Austerity is adding to the problem, say local councillors

After nine years of Government austerity and massive cuts, Sheffield Council is struggling to provide services.

Coun Chris Rosling-Josephs said: “In the past we have been able to pay for a bin lorry or skip but since austerity began, budgets have been reduced and costs have gone up. We barely have any area budget to spend now and it’s £1,000 for a bin lorry each day.”

Coun Ian Saunders says essential services such as adult social care and children’s services are being maintained but there’s just not enough money for other services.

“Beighton won the Urban Community in Britain in Bloom in 2010. Out of thousands of villages we came out top and we are really proud of that but we’ve then had nine years of austerity. We have not got enough money coming into the council.

“People often say why is my council tax going up when services are going down but the costs are so big that 2.9 per cent council tax rise is only partially off-setting all the cuts.

“We are trying to keep essential services going even though we have had to stop a lot of things over the years.”

And Coun Saunders says even if the council looks at prosecuting, it can be difficult tracing landowners.

“We have one particular spot at the bottom of the village where a shop used to be and it’s now empty land. Part of the problem with the law is if someone fly tips, it becomes the problem of the landowner but some of these are absent land owners.

“The council identified the land owner and we thought we had traced them, but they hadn’t lived at their last address for 15 years.

“The rubbish has to stay there for three weeks then the council can go on the land and clear it. The council then puts a charge against the land owner and reclaims the money against them – but not until the land is sold.

“And every time there is fly tipping on the land, we have to go through the whole process again.”

We will prosecute, warns Sheffield Council

Sheffield Council says it has successfully prosecuted fly tippers with fines and costs totalling more than £3,000 this year.

Environmental enforcement officers can issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) of £400 to anyone caught fly-tipping. In some cases, vehicles will be seized during an investigation.

Last year the council issued more than 100 FPNs for fly-tipping and dumping of waste, totalling more than £14,000.

Where the FPNs were not paid, or where an FPN was not considered appropriate, the council prosecuted.

In all, 19 waste offence cases were brought before the courts, with fines and costs totalling more than £13,000. Four cases led to seizure of vehicles and ten cases are pending court dates.

The council says it also helps people organise community litter picks. Last year more than 450 bags of litter were collected by people keen to keep their communities litter-free, and another 50 bags were collected last month.

People who need to dispose of additional waste can do so at their nearest recycling centre or pay for the council’s bulky item collection service on 0114 27 34567.

Business waste must be disposed of using a licensed carrier, and each load of waste has to be accounted for by the business obtaining Waste Transfer Notes which must be retained for two years.

Environmental Enforcement Officers may request to see these notes, and they may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice for £300 if the business does not have them.

People who witness fly-tipping can call 0114 273 4567.