Waste collection charges blamed for Sunderland’s surge in fly-tipping

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COUNCIL bosses are being urged to stop charging to take away people’s rubbish – in a bid to stop people fly-tipping.

Since Sunderland City Council brought in a £15 charge last April they have collected almost £187,000.

The number of call-outs has also dropped by 78 per cent since the council started charging, from 53,000 to just 12,000 – saving the authority £464,000.

According to the city’s Conservative group, overall incidents of fly-tipping was down in Sunderland by 27 per cent in the first eight months of 2013/14, but there has been a huge rise in people dumping multiple loads of rubbish.

In May, the Echo told how grieving families were left fuming after sofas, chairs and carpets were left next to their loved ones’ graves in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery.

Tory leader Councillor Lee Martin is now calling for the charges to be scrapped and residents allowed two free collections each year. “We think it’s quite understandable that people don’t want to pay for the collections,” said Coun Martin.

“In our opinion the current situation is loading some costs onto other agencies such as the police, when items are stolen from people’s driveways or gardens.

“By charging, you are putting people off getting rid of their stuff, so things like sofas and fridges are just sitting in garages as people hoard them.

“There are certain services that you pay your council tax for that we think should be delivered, and this is one of them.”

Michael Mordey, cabinet members for city services at the council, said: “The council introduced the charge for collecting bulky items back in April 2013, as a direct consequence of a package of enforced efficiency savings imposed on the city by the Tory-led coalition. All those measures were considered and approved with cross-party support at the time.

“All local authorities in the region now have similar charges and we consider the service we provide offers good value for money, with residents receiving up to eight separate items collected at one time for £15.

“Alternatively, we encourage residents to support local charities by donating their unwanted items to them, or to take items to the Household Waste and Recycling Centres at Beach Street and Campground.

“It is not a position we wished to find ourselves in, but the residents will appreciate that when your budgets are slashed in the manner that ours have been, as a council, we simply couldn’t carry on providing the level of services we did in the past.”