Cameras used to catch Calderdale fly tippers are being stolen by the culprits
Cameras are catching fly-tippers in the act in Calderdale, rattling them so badly enough that one has been stolen.
Fly-tipping has plagued Calderdale and other councils through COVID-19 instigated lockdown but in areas where cameras have been fairly recently installed, they are having an impact.
Calderdale Council has a mobile camera which can be deployed by its Safer, Cleaner, Greener team based on intelligence the authority has obtained often with help from the public, while other cameras overlook hotspots, councillors have been told.
The council’s Community Safety Partnership manager, Derek Benn, said despite catching some on images, the cameras’ main role was putting people off from tipping.
“We have had two incidents where people have been caught in the act but that is the exception rather than the rule – its real role is deterrent,” he said.
He said one had been stolen, very possibly because someone realised it had filmed them illegally dumping.
“We have had a camera stolen because it has collected some evidence, so we need to look at covert capability,” said Mr Benn.
The council currently had ten cases pending prosecution and that was looking very positive, he said.
Board Chair Coun Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf) asked how much people would be fined.
Mr Benn said levels were set by guidance with upper and lower tariffs – some authorities were stepping these up but that could bring issues with collecting fines. But, he said: “We will always prosecute a fly-tipper.”
Head of Neighbourhoods, Andrew Pitts, told members of the council’s Place Scrutiny Board fly-tipping covered a range of anti-social behaviour from throwing things over a wall to commercial fly-tippers dumping items they had been paid to dispose of.
He said the council pursued the three “Es” – educating people that it wrong, engagement with them to help them understand the issues and, ultimately, enforcement if behaviour did not change.
“We have all got an interest in making sure we get a grip on this issue,” he said.
The ultimate objective was getting people to change their behaviour using the three Es process: “If it didn’t happen, we wouldn’t have to deal with it,” said Mr Pitts.
The problem was a growing one but making reporting it easier was a big step and the online process for doing this had been streamlined, he said.
Mr Benn said the new system was “proving its weight in gold.”
Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland), who had spent time with community wardens, said education had to play a key role, pointing out the consequences of not disposing of bulky items properly.
He suggested working with waste contractor Suez to publicise this on the annual recycling and waste collection day leaflet delivered to each household could be productive.
Conviction for fly-tipping should also be publicised as part of that deterrent, said Coun Bellenger.
In response to a question from Coun Helen Rivron (Lab, Ovenden), Mr Pitts said the process for removing tipped waste from joint sites was more complex.
Coun Guy Beech (Con, Illingworth and Mixenden) was concerned where tenants stood in terms of responsibility for the cost of clearing but Mr Benn said if you were targeted you were a victim, and the council would not look to cause distress to anyone in that position.
Coun Audrey Smith (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) asked if the council could look into giving residents some free bulky waste collections a year, examining of it would prove cheaper than clearing up fly-tipping – Manchester did this, and it also helped people who did not have a car and so could not use the recycling stations.
Mr Pitts said he did not want to sound negative but it had been tried in the past but resulted in an overwhelming number of requests.
Coun Rivron said a lot of goods could actually be reused and Mr Pitts said issues like those raised by Coun Smith and Coun Rivron could be explored in a review of the council’s waste contracts.