Fly-tipping in Staffordshire 'on way up after waste charge'

The councillor who brought in charges at tips across Staffordshire is 'on another planet' to expect no increase in fly-tipping, a council leader has said.

Fly-tipping in Staffordshire 'on way up after waste charge'

Cannock Chase District Council's leader George Adamson said environment boss Councillor Gill Heath had told him to 'stop talking' about fly-tipping over fears it could encourage more people to dump rubbish.

As Staffordshire County Council's cabinet member for environment, Councillor Heath is responsible for a plan which charges residents to get rid of items including soil, rubble and plasterboard. It was rolled out in November.

The district council is responsible for picking up fly-tipped waste and the county council is charged with paying to dispose of it.

Councillor Adamson recalled a conversation with Councillor Heath at a district council meeting on Wednesday.

He said: "Her response was: 'Stop talking about it, you're encouraging people to do it.'

"I've no intention stopping talking about it. It's an issue for our residents, it's an issue for this council."

"I saw on Central News one day last week there was a road near Newcastle completely blocked by fly-tipping. Nothing to do with these charges, because, as Gill Heath said: 'Staffordshire people are too honest.

"We don't do illegal things; we don't fly-tip.' The woman is on another planet."

Councillor Adamson told the meeting that he will be urging officers to recoup money it spends on clearing fly-tipped waste from the county council as a result of the policy.

The district council has been called out hundreds of times to deal with fly-tipped rubbish over recent years. Last month it said it had been called out 79 times in 2016/17. That is way down on 416 incidents in 2014/15 and 363 in 2015/16.

In an effort to tackle fly-tippers in the summer, its cabinet agreed the authority would hand offenders tougher penalties last July.

Convicted fly-tippers are now charged a maximum fine of £400. There is no discount offered for early payment.

But Councillor Gill Heath said: "The evidence is that so far, as predicted, levels of fly-tipping across the county are pretty constant since the introduction of small charges for specific items of non-household waste, such as rubble and plasterboard.

"Sadly, there are always some people who will behave anti-socially and they will be prosecuted wherever possible.

"What I said is that I don't believe Staffordshire people will begin acting illegally rather than paying £3 or £4 to take a large bag of non-household waste to the recycling centre.

"It's worth remembering that we're not talking about hedge cuttings, or a couple of pruned tree branches.

"We're not talking about a mattress, electrical goods, or a piece of furniture.

"We're talking about large amounts of soil, or rubble, we're talking about sinks and toilets, or plasterboard walls taken out.

"If you think about what we're actually talking about it's clear that even people who use recycling centres regularly will only take this sort of waste now and again."

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