Fly-tipping will be 'huge problem' until waste services in Sunderland overhauled, claim's opposition leader

Fly-tipping will remain a ‘huge problem’ in Sunderland until city bosses overhaul waste services, opposition councillors have claimed.
Fly-tipping in RyhopeFly-tipping in Ryhope
Fly-tipping in Ryhope

The latest figures have shown a rise in the number of reports of illegally dumped rubbish across Wearside since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

And while disruptions to collections or reduced access to tips may be partly to blame, some have pointed the finger at the cost of making sure refuse is disposed of properly.

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“Given the circumstances, the bulky waste charge should also be scrapped altogether,” said Coun Niall Hodson, leader of Sunderland City Council’s Liberal Democrat opposition group.

“The council needs to realise that lots of people still can’t get to the tip, either because they don’t have a car or because they can’t get a slot.

“Many more can’t afford to pay for a collection for things that won’t fit in a wheelie bin.

“Until ruling councillors recognise this and take action, I fear fly-tipping will continue to be a huge problem.”

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But according to figures from the city council, reports fell in the first four months of 2020, down to 2,994, compared to 3,009 in 2020.

It came after a drive by council chiefs, and the Sunderland Echo’s Clean Streets campaign, aimed at encouraging people to keep the city tidy.

Coun Hodson claimed families using lockdown for ‘decorating, gardening and having a clear out’ had been left with nowhere else to get rid of waste, with tips closed and bulky waste services suspended.

Both were restarted in May.

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Coun Michael Mordey, the deputy leader of the council, hit back, pointing to spending plans approved earlier this year which slashed bulky waste collection charges from £22.50 to £10.

He said: “This is very good value and it means you do not have the risk of a white van waste carrier who then goes onto fly-tip your bulky items.

“It’s also worth pointing out that Coun Hodson and the Liberal Democrat group voted against our proposal to reduce the cost of the bulky waste collection to £10.

“If they had their way at the budget meeting the cost would still be £22.50.

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Residents are responsible for disposing of their waste legally and, if a waste carrier goes fly-tipping, there can be penalties from the courts.”

In March, the council’s Liberal Democrats unsuccessfully opposed the city budget for 2020/21 which included cutting bulky waste collection fees to £10.

Instead the opposition group tabled alternative measures, including a means‐tested bulky item collection service which would have scraped the charge entirely for pensioners, the unemployed and others on low-incomes or benefits.

But the proposed package of amendments was rejected by the majority of city councillors.

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Anti-fly-tipping measures have seen surveillance cameras deployed at hotspots, with at least one vehicle destroyed after being found involved in illegal dumping this year (2020).

Local authorities have the power to confiscate any vehicle suspected of being involved in environmental crime or fly-tipping.

Sunderland’s Conservative group has called for anyone caught fly-tipping to be hit with the ‘maximum possible punishment’.

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