Fly-tipping approach by council under fire after just one penalty notice issued

PUBLISHED: 12:03 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:03 30 January 2020

Norwich City Council leaders say it is hard to track down who has dumped mattresses.  Picture: Ian Burt

Norwich City Council leaders say it is hard to track down who has dumped mattresses. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

Just one fixed penalty notice specifically for fly-tipping was issued in Norwich last year, but council leaders have defended their approach to the problem.

Green city councillor Nigel Utton. Pic: Norwich Green PartyGreen city councillor Nigel Utton. Pic: Norwich Green Party

In Cambridge, almost 700 notices, which impose fines of up to £300, were issued in 2018/19. But just one was issued in the city - and that was not paid.

Norwich City Council did take action more than 100 times over fly-tipping, including 44 investigations, with 23 warning letters sent to people.

But, at a full city council meeting this week, Green city councillor Nigel Utton referred to figures which stated more than 1,700 mattresses had been dumped in Norwich over the past two years, even though they can be disposed of at recycling centres for free.

He asked: "Does the cabinet member now accept that the 'tread softly' approach adopted isn't working and needs to be radically altered?"

However, Kevin Maguire, Labour's cabinet member for safe and sustainable city environments, defended the way the council deals with fly-tipping.

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He said it can be difficult to get the evidence to pin fly-tipping on an individual, particularly when it comes to mattresses.

He said: "A dumped mattress will rarely, if ever, contain any evidence that can be related back to a person or property.

"The investigation of any incident of a single dumped mattress will rely entirely on the incident having been witnessed - and the witness being ready, willing and able to pass accurate information to the authorities in order for an investigation to be launched.

"Unfortunately, fly-tipping is, by its nature, a secretive affair that is rarely witnessed. A fixed penalty notice can only be issued against a person where there is evidence to implicate that person, so in the case of a dumped mattress it would require a witness."

Mr Maguire said the council encourages people to report incidents, but added: "The council is yet to see any clear evidence that proves a causal link between the imposition of fixed penalty notices and a reduction in fly-tipping incidents within the district."

He said the council follows the principle of advise, confirm, enforce, with enforcement a last resort.

The single Norwich notice was one of five across Norfolk and Waveney issued specifically for fly-tipping. The others were in South Norfolk.

MORE: Figures reveal scale of fly-tipping in Norfolk

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