Express & Star

Fly-tipping notices handed to firms in Wolverhampton hotspot

Businesses in a fly-tipping hotspot have been told to clean up their act or face prosecution.

A council officer gets stuck into rubbish dumped outside shops in Blakenhall.

A team of public protection officers from Wolverhampton council took to Dudley Road, Blakenhall, to investigate the problem and issue official notices as well as advice.

There have been regular complaints of fly-tipping in and around the busy shopping street in recent years.

The council said one of the problems is businesses not having in place adequate means to dispose of their rubbish, which usually involves a commercial waste contractor.

Instead some are placing their waste illegally on the pavement, usually next to litter bins thinking they will be collected.

The officers visited every business along Dudley Road and in cases where there was insufficient arrangements in place, which was around one in three firms, properties were told they must provide evidence of having made the necessary changes within a defined time period.

A fixed penalty notice could be issued should the deadlines not be met.

Senior officer Faye Pearson, from the council's public protection team, said: "From what we did today I would say about 70 per cent of firms had appropriate arrangements in place while 30 per cent did not.

"Everyone was quite positive about what was happening. Businesses were pleased what we were out and about.

"In the main it was not businesses trying to flout the law - they generally thought they didn't need to have contracts in place because they were able to take their waste with them or the did not produce very much waste.

"There were some who would definitely need to have a contract because of the nature of their business.

"All of the businesses need to of course but there are some creating more than others."

Pairs of officers went door-to-door in Dudley Road.

At the same time they were looking for instances of fly-tipping and seeing if they could identify the culprits by rummaging through the bins.

Faye, added: "There were three or four instances of this on or just off the main road. Part of the problem is it can be very hard to identify the source of the rubbish.

"Overall it was a valuable exercise I think and hopefully we can roll it out to other areas of Wolverhampton.

"The main value was in terms of the residents and shoppers of the area being able to see we are taking this issue seriously and trying to tackle it."

The initiative was backed by two of Blakenhall's ward councillors.

Councillor Harbans Singh Bagri, said: "This is something that our public protection officers have been working on for some time. They have created this initiative where they are looking into waste dumping in this area.

"They are focusing on three aspects - the businesses, the residents, and the home of multiple-occupancy.

"The idea is to make sure there are sufficient provisions for disposing of waste correctly.

"Today they have been taking the initiative and have physically gone out to show we are taking this issue seriously."

Councillor John Rowley, who has represented the area for the last 33 years, added: "The key to all of this is finding out who is responsible and initiating legal action if there is evidence to do so.

"One of the difficulties is that a lot of this takes places at night. People have been doing this at 5am in the morning.

"I think generally it is a case of ignorance. It is not normally malicious.

"But at the end of the day if you are running a business you need to have a proper way of disposing of rubbish.

"Blakenhall is probably not unique in respect of this problem. This is very common across the city.

"In fact a lot of the fly-tipping is not in the towns and cities but is on the rural fringe. You can get whole roads being blocked when people have dumped loads and loads. That dwarves what happens here.

"In the 33 years I have been a councillor it has got worse. I think fly-tipping has got worse generally."

Councillor Rowley added problems of fly-tipping are made worse by the "volatility of housing" in the Blakenhall area.

"The ward has owner occupiers, housing association lets and private tenancies," he said.

"This leads to large numbers of transient occupiers and a churning effect in which many residents feel little loyalty to the area in which live so they can't be bothered about the quality of life and often move on leaving run down and abandoned property behind

"Stabilising the population and improving the condition of the property would definitely help."