Four people have been fined in Sunderland after paying 'cowboy' waste collectors to dispose of their rubbish and junk.
Sunderland City Council is warning people after a number of householders were served with fixed penalty notices when waste they paid collectors to take away ended up being fly-tipped across the city.
Council chiefs say they are continuing to clampdown on fly-tippers and others who despoil the city.
Since February 2017, this has seen more than 1,300 formal warnings and notices and 173 fixed penalty notices being served across the city for environmental crimes including littering, dog fouling and fly-tipping.
It comes as the Echo runs its Cleaner Streets campaign, launched to encourage everyone to take pride in keeping Sunderland clean and tidy after our survey found dumping and litter to be one of the biggest bugbears in the city.
The latest actions by the council include:
- A Fulwell resident fined £389 to cover the cost of investigating, clearing and disposing of a double mattress, fridge freezer, toys, wood and household waste which were found dumped near a footbridge in the area after she paid an unlicensed waste carrier to take them away.
- A Hetton resident fined £68 and given a formal warning after a bed base stuffed with household waste was found dumped on a grass verge in Hetton. The householder admitted paying £20 to two men who approached him on his doorstep to take away three bags of household waste but said the bed base wasn't his. Enforcement officers accepted it could have been mixed with other waste before being dumped.
- A resident fined £193 clearance charges after a large amount of carpet was found dumped at Northern Area Playing Fields in Washington. He told enforcement officers he had taken the carpets up and put them in his garden ahead of the landlord fitting a new heating system. But he had paid £60 to two men who asked if he wanted them taken away after his landlord threatened to evict him for storing waste in his garden.
- A Downhill resident given a formal warning and asked to pay £95 disposal costs after the waste she paid ‘two men in a van’ £20 to take away was dumped behind Thompson Road, Southwick, blocking a disabled man's only vehicle access to his home.
Councillor Amy Wilson, cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: "People really shouldn't be fooled into using these cowboy companies. As a householder you have a legal ‘Duty of Care’ to make sure your waste is disposed of lawfully and failing to do so is an offence.
"If these cowboys take your waste and then dump it, it's you who could end up footing the bill for the clean up. So it's no cheaper in the long run and you could end up with a criminal record if you don't pay the fine.
"That's why it's very important that if you are thinking of using a private contractor, you make sure that they are legitimate and that they have a waste carrier's licence. Alternatively the council's bulky waste service only costs £20 for up to 8 items - which is much cheaper than a fine."
Anyone who sees anyone fly tipping or dropping litter can report it anonymously to: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/12416/Report-fly-tipping