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Concern over big rise in fly-tipping
This picture says it all about the fly-tipping problem that is blighting the Basingstoke and Deane community
ASBESTOS and hypodermic needles were among a colossal 1,377 tonnes of waste dumped by reckless fly-tippers in the Basing-stoke and Deane area last year.
There were 6,166 instances of fly-tipping between April 2008 and March 2009 – up 814 on the previous year and an increase of 1,031 on 2006/07, according to figures obtained by The Gazette.
It is estimated that the problem cost council taxpayers in Basingstoke and Deane £212,549 to clean up last year.
Despite the sharp rise in fly-tipping, The Gazette has discovered that only six culprits were successfully prosecuted and two cautioned in the past two years – despite there being 11,518 incidents in that time and a borough enforcement officer being appointed 18 months ago to track down and prosecute culprits.
Following The Gazette’s revelations, Basingstoke MP Maria Miller has called for prosecutions to be stepped up.
She said: “We need to stop people from not only blighting our countryside but also costing the taxpayer.”
The MP added that the fly-tipping situation underlined the importance of keeping weekly household bin collections in the borough.
Councillor Elaine Still, Cabinet member for the environment and climate change, said that the council’s prosecution rate was high in comparison to the rest of Hampshire.
She said: “We take fly-tipping extremely seriously. Discarding waste in such a careless manner is thoughtless and potentially dangerous. It poses serious risks for children and animals, increases the risk of fire and encourages rats.”
She added that before the appointment of the enforcement officer, there had been no recent prosecutions for fly-tipping.
The most recent case that ended before the courts saw Black Dam resident Paul Kelly, 34, fined by Basingstoke magistrates for leaving bags of rubbish, rubble, wooden pallets and a trailer at the back of his home in Holbein Close. He was ordered to pay £3,515.25, including £107.25 for the council’s clean-up costs and £64 for disposal costs.
Cllr Still said that prosecution is not the only way in which the council tackles fly-tipping.
“We also send letters, deliver leaflets, issue cautions and issue written and verbal warnings,” she said.
Last year, 76 warning letters were sent out where the offence did not warrant prosecution or there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
The figures released by the council revealed that a staggering 16,653 incidents of fly-tipping have taken place over the past three years, including 21 involving potentially deadly asbestos.
There were also 48 incidents of clinical waste being dumped, including pill bottles and hypodermic needles, and 355 cases of animal carcasses being ditched.
In Basingstoke, the problem has blighted housing estates in Buckskin, Norden, South Ham, Winklebury and Popley.
South Ham Councillor Sean Keating said that the problem is acute near housing association flats. He said: “It is horrendous, and we, as a council, need to be more proactive in preventing it.”
Critics of the Conservative-led borough council claim that the problem is set to get worse because of the increase in the large household waste removal charge in April from £10 to £20.
Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor John Shaw said: “There is no excuse for people dumping, but at the same time the council does need to think about the impact of the charges, given the current financial situation.”