Tackling fly tipping in Morecambe cost £70k in 2020

Tackling illegal fly tipping in Morecambe’s West End and taking action against offenders cost the public more than £70,000 last year.

Fly-tipping in a Morecambe alleyway in 2020. Photo by Coun David Whitaker

Lancaster City Council highlighted the impact of fly tipping in Morecambe and the wider district at the city council’s latest full meeting at Morecambe Town Hall.

It came after Labour councillor David Whitaker asked about the management of litter problems and the costs involved.

He said council fly-tipping teams did a good job but Morecambe’s West End area had terraced streets and houses with multiple occupancy which appeared to make the area vulnerable to fly tipping.

He asked if research had been undertaken about best practice in managing the problems, and if the Westminster Government offered guidance to councils.

Green councillor Dave Brookes, a city council cabinet member, said: “The emphasis is on the appropriate and consistent management of an area to keep it clean, not on how often it is cleaned.

“The city council’s street cleansing operations are designed to take account the Code of Practice in practical terms. This means that areas that are likely to generate more waste and litter, like town centres, densely populated areas or visitor areas, will have more cleansing staff allocated.

“Harbour Ward, as an example, has areas near shops and the promenade that are machine-swept every day and also has frequent litter picking and machine sweeping of residential areas.

“Morecambe as a whole has a response team allocated to it to remove fly tipping every day and there is a similar response team operating in Lancaster. ”

Regarding statistics, he added: “In the nine months to October 2021 there were 123 reported cases in the Harbour ward. For further context, there were 438 reported cases there in the last financial year from April 2020 to March 2021. So there has been a significant decline in numbers since the heights of lock-down.

“In 2019/20 across the whole district, 1,942 incidents of fly tipping were recorded. Of those, 1,113 were in back alleys. Of those, further action was taken over 961 cases beyond clearing-up the fly-tipping.

“More investigation was done in 594 cases. 200 warning letters were issued, 159 legal notices were issued, which is action which precedes prosecution, and eight cases resulted in fines in court of up to £1,000.”

In recent years, Coun Brookes said the number of fly-tipping incidents officially recorded in the whole Lancaster district were 3,717 in the financial year for 2014-15; 2,750 for 2015-16; 3,765 for 2016-17; 4,006 in 2017-18; 2,708 in 2018-19 and 1,942 in 2019-20.

There had been a significant downward trend before the lock-down period, when the problem had risen again, he said.

Regarding estimated costs to the council, Coun Brookes said it was not practical to work out the cost per incident. However, the annual cost of the Morecambe fly tipping response team was £70,000 per year, plus some additional disposal costs for large items, such as fridges. There were also indirect costs with fly tipping including a customer services centre, an enforcement team and legal actions.

He said it was unlikely that litter team staff levels would be cut if the fly-tipping problem disappeared overnight. Officers have plenty of other work which they can do.