‘We are starting to look like landfill’: Sunderland campaigner fed up with flytipping and nuisance off-road bikers
A former soldier and his fellow veterans have launched a campaign to clear up their Sunderland neighbourhood after it became a dumping ground and race track for yobs.
Darrin Carlisle, who served as a private in the 2 Rifles, and his pals have teamed up to improve the appearance of South Hylton.
It comes after parts of the community, including the land beneath Claxheugh Rock and areas off Offerton Lane and Pottery Lane have been used to tip waste, including containers of what he fears are toxic chemicals, furniture and bin liners full of rubbish.
Vehicles have also torn up grassed areas after getting through the gaps in bollards, leaving land churned up with tyre marks.
Darrin, 50, has made a YouTube video to record a walkabout highlighting dumping hotspots and problems in the area. A Facebook page, Team South Hylton, also encourages people to report the waste issues to Sunderland City Council and to report rogue riders and drivers to Northumbria Police.
He is planning to hold a public meeting to bring together residents, councillors and police in the hope of bringing about improvements.
The Echo continues to run its Clean Streets campaign which aims to make the city a cleaner place following complaints from many readers about the state of public spaces in the city.
Darrin, who now works as a music producer and helps support community projects with fellow Armed Services veterans, said: “We are plagued daily by flytippers, motorbikes on paths and quads ripping the riverside to bits, it’s an embarrassment.
“I’ve worked two years now with a local team to try stop this and had meeting after meeting with councillors and nothing’s been done.
“Meanwhile we are starting to look like landfill.
“People on my page have had enough and some say they don’t go down there because they are scared.
“A friend cut his leg on rubbish and there are people who have taken their dogs down there and they’ve been cut by the glass strewn all over the place.
“The bollards are not fit for purpose, people just drive around them, they’re a waste of time.
“Most are frightened to use the area because they come along on their motorbikes down by the riverside and down by the Golden Lion, which is closed, and they rip up the grass.
“At the weekend there can be 15 or 16 down there, I phone the people and they send a car there on the Tuesday when there’s nobody there.
“But people need to report it. If the council and police don’t know, they can’t do anything about it.”
Coun Amy Wilson, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Mr Carlisle is correct.
“A lot of other people, including myself and council colleagues, are also fed up with the mess, noise, disrespect and disturbance that this minority are creating.
“The council has previously placed bollards to help deter fly-tippers and will look again at access.
“It would be helpful in the first place if some people thought a little bit more about the impact their actions are having on their neighbours, their community, and their city.
“I can also confirm that in the last few days a large amount of fly-tipped waste has been removed from the area.
“This would have been taken away sooner but the ground was heavily water-logged and staff had to use a tractor to help with the clear-up.
“While they were removing the waste, evidence has been recovered and is currently being investigated.
“I would encourage anyone with information to report flytipping immediately and if we all work together we can help stop it.”
Inspector Marie Pollock, of Northumbria Police, said: “The antisocial behaviour of a few can have a significant impact on residents.
“As a result, we are committed to dealing with this type of behaviour and work is ongoing in the South Hylton area to tackle any reports made to us.
“Plain-clothed and uniformed officers will also continue to patrol affected areas in marked and unmarked vehicles looking to identify perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“We have already seen fantastic results across Sunderland since the DNA spray was introduced to tackle off-road motorbike riders involved in anti-social behaviour, and we are eager to maintain that momentum, working alongside partners, heading towards the spring.
“I would always encourage members of the public who are concerned about antisocial behaviour in their area to speak to a nearby officer or contact police.
“By working together with partners and local residents, we can tackle these issues head-on.”
People can report flytipping via Sunderland.gov.uk or on (0191) 520 5550.