Council bosses have hit back after figures showed they’ve never used new ‘on-the-spot’ fines to punish fly-tippers - saying the instead prefer the court system.
New Government legislation which came into force last May enabled Hartlepool Borough Council to issue fines of between £150 and £400 against those caught in the act of fly-tipping, instead of having to take them to court, as part of efforts to crack down on waste crime.
Our current policy is to pursue offenders through the courts.Council spokesman
However, figures obtained under the Freedom Of Information Act show the town’s council, along with 184 other local authorities across the country, have yet to issue any of the fines.
This is because many councils do not yet have the new rules and regulations in place.
Others said they pursued illegal dumping of waste through prosecutions or employing methods such as making offenders clear up their rubbish.
Bosses at Hartlepool say they prefer to pursue offenders through the courts - but are exploring the options of issuing on-the-spot fines.
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “Fly-tipping is against the law and can damage the environment.
“Our current policy is to pursue offenders through the courts and we are also exploring the option of issuing on-the-spot fines following a decision by central government to give local authorities new powers.
“In the near future, the penalties for fly-tipping and littering will also appear on the back of our pay and display parking tickets to try and make people more aware of their actions.
“There are many easy ways for residents and businesses to recycle or dispose of waste and these can be found on our website.”
Fly-tipping has been on the rise in the past few years, with 900,000 incidents in 2014/2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, and councils spending £50 million on clear-up costs and £17 million on enforcement action.
Fly-tippers cost Hartlepool Borough Council more than £60,000 during this time.
Statistics from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DeFRA) show that the local authority also dealt with 1,701 incidents of fly-tipping between April 2013 and March 2014.
In total, investigating fly-tipping and issuing warning letters and Fixed Penalty Notices cost the council £62,184.
The authority spent £27,555 alone on investigating fly-tipping.
To find out more about waste disposal in Hartlepool, visit www.hartlepool.gov.uk/recycle.