Norwich council seeks to tackle fly tipping with amnesty

13:02 July 17, 2022

City councilors are being urged to crack down on fly tipping, with one resident describing the situation as the worst he’s seen in more than a quarter of a century.

Norwich City Council is exploring 10 measures as part of a crackdown.

They include additional enforcement, including CCTV and fines as well as a ‘landfill amnesty’ – which would see communal dumpsters placed in sensitive areas for use by residents.

Michael Stewart-Watling, of Cherry Close, Lakenham, has complained fly tipping in his area is the worst he has ever seen, having raised incidents with Norwich City Council on several occasions in the 27 years where he lived in the region.

Now Mr Stewart-Watling, 75, has argued fines are needed to tackle litter dumped near his home.

Michael Stewart-Watling
– Credit: Brittany Woodman

“There are bags of food thrown in there now, they have to set up a camera, catch people doing it and fine them. It’s a few people messing it up for everyone.

“It should be like parking fines. It costs the council hundreds of dollars to clean it up and it happens over and over again.

“The last time bags of garbage were thrown away we had rats, there are children around here, a rat could bite them.”

Anger at the state of a communal garden for Cherry Close apartments in Norwich.  Resident Michael Steward

Michael Stewart-Watling
– Credit: Brittany Woodman

Introducing a fly-tipping amnesty would see the return of a scheme abandoned by the authority in 2007, with the direct cost of removing fly-tipping now costing the council around £180,000 a year .

Mr Stewart-Watling welcomed the idea, but said it simply wouldn’t work in areas like his because there would be no space for bins.

“I don’t think it would be a bad idea, but it’s the way of the coward.

“Give them a fine, it would put money in the council’s pocket – it would deter [fly-tippers].

“And you should be careful where you put it too – where would you put it here?”

Michael Stewart-Watling who is angry at the lack of action on fly tipping and rats on Cherry Close

Michael Stewart-Watling
– Credit: Danielle Boden

The measure is one of more than 10 recommendations the mayoral review panel considered Thursday night.

Other proposals included reducing bulky item collection fees for low-income people.

The scale of the problem was laid out in a report to advisers, which found that the authority makes an average of around 5,000 reports each year, including 10,000 between September 2019 and August 2021.

The vast majority of incidents – 92% – occur on municipal land, primarily housing estates.

The report follows a public consultation, asking for opinions on what would be most effective in solving the problem.

While the public showed strong support for the fly tipping amnesty, Andy Summers, chief environmental officer, warned councilors there had been “significant problems” with the previous scheme.

In particular, these were caused by the volume of waste and what was thrown away – including asbestos, gas canisters and chemicals – as well as misuse by commercial operators.

Mr Summers said the only way to protect against problems would be to have a member of staff on site to oversee the site, which would drive up costs.

Labour’s Ian Stutely, who had chaired the tipping task force that oversaw the report, added that the council’s finances in 2007 were in much better shape and they needed to make sure solutions were achievable.

Ian Stutely, Labor Councilor of Town Close.  Photo: Labor Party.

Ian Stutely, Labor Councilor of Town Close. Photo: Labor Party.
– Credit: Labor Party

He said the previous amnesty had resulted in significant costs and items continued to be thrown away after the dumpsters were removed.

Mr Summers also said it was clear the public wanted City Hall to work with the County Council to influence the location of recycling centers and opening hours.

However, County Hall recently agreed to look into reducing recycling centers to one day a week.

Mr Summer said the proposals, which will be forwarded to the Cabinet of Council at a future meeting, should be the start of the process and better engagement with residents is needed.

The cabinet will make a final decision on the measures to be taken and piloted in the hotspots.

Before that, the various proposals will have to be quantified.

What other measures are proposed?

  • Pre-Covid enforcement provisions for fly tipping are reinstated and extended to include the use of CCTV
  • Review bulky waste collection fees for low-income residents and Universal Credit
  • New app to report fly tipping
  • Consider local facilities for recycling and reuse of unwanted items in partnership with county council
  • Review the application and ensure that the full range of penalties – such as fines – are used effectively
  • Improve communication between the municipality and its waste collector, Biffa
  • The methods of dialogue with residents are reviewed and improved
  • Review the number, locations and types of trash cans in common areas of identified fly tipping hotspots

What did the audience say?

A total of 1,325 Norwich residents took part in an online survey asking for their views on the recommendations. He found :

  • 40% of respondents reported fly tipping in the past three years
  • 77% wanted more enforcement – like fines and prosecution for repeat offenders
  • 70% think bulky waste collection should be cheaper and more affordable for low-income residents and Universal Credit
  • 69% asked for faster and more efficient responses
  • 62% of respondents think the council should consider increasing the number, locations and changing types of bins in common areas where there is a spillage problem.
  • 62% of respondents support the possibility of the city council introducing its own item reuse and recycling facilities or working in partnership with programs such as Freegle
  • 61pc thought council’s decision in 2007 to stop waste amnesty collections in 2007 should be reconsidered for dumping hotspots in Norwich

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