INCIDENTS where Sheffield Council officials have been called out to clear fly-tipping are on course to fall by more than 50 per cent this year.
Statistics have been released by the authority which show that, after a slight drop last year, figures for the first three months of 2012/13 show a large decline.
Workers were called out just 5,757 times to clear fly-tipping – and if incidents continue at the same rate, there would be just 23,028 cases in the whole year.
But opposition Liberal Democrat councillors have highlighted a likely rise in incidents in parks and public open spaces, where there have been 146 cases in the first three months of 2012/13 against 204 in the whole of the 2011/12 year. The annual total could reach 584.
Lib Dems also say the first quarter does not show the effect of introducing fortnightly bin collections or reduction of household recycling centre opening hours.
Coun Ian Auckland, Liberal Democrat councillor for Graves Park, who proposed a motion calling for full opening hours to be restored to Blackstock Road recycling centre at yesterday’s full council meeting, said: “Users of Blackstock Road have been treated unfairly by the council.
“Despite being the most popular site, it’s seen the biggest reduction in opening hours. As a result, we’re now seeing our parks and green spaces littered with excess waste.
“Residents are up in arms about this change but Labour councillors have decided they’d rather talk about national politics such as cuts than local issues that matter.”
But the ruling Labour group hit back saying the Lib Dems have picked on only one aspect of the fly-tipping statistics and not recognised the forecast overall decrease.
Increased cases of fly-tipping cleared in the first quarter of the year coincided with a period of very warm weather when there were particular problems with fly-tipping in parks, Labour said.
Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member responsible for environment, said: “The idea there is a huge fly-tipping catastrophe is wrong because we are on course to record a major fall over the year.
“We have brought back two enforcement officers axed under the Lib Dems to fine and deter offenders.”
Coun Scott said the council has changed its ‘soft’ stance against offenders, issuing 105 fixed penalty tickets for litter and dog fouling over just 17 working days last month – against 78 tickets issued during the whole of 2011/12 and 87 in 2010/11.