St Albans may introduce on-the-spot fines to tackle fly-tipping

Rubbish and fly tipping,

Rubbish and fly tipping, - Credit: Archant

Mounting fears about the growing problem of fly-tipping could result in on-the-spot fines being issued to anyone found illegally dumping rubbish, dropping litter or allowing their dogs to foul in the district.

The introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) is one of the initiatives being put forward by a St Albans scrutiny committee concerned not only about the increase in fly tipping but also the cost to the council.

And councillors also want the county council to increase opening hours at its household waste sites to previous levels as a pilot scheme. The amount of fly-tipping in the district would then be compared to other areas where the reduced hours were still in force.

At the beginning of this year, opening hours at both Ronsons Way in St Albans and Dark Lane in Harpenden were reduced as part of a countywide scheme. They now open for five days instead of the previous seven.

Not only are they each closed two days a week but Dark Lane does not open before 10am and Ronsons Way does not open until 10am during the summer, catching out frustrated users of the tips who arrive only to find them closed.

Local farmers believe fly-tipping may have increased as a result of the reduction in opening hours but the link has proved hard to substantiate.

The scrutiny committee’s proposals will go to next week’s meeting of the council’s cabinet for further consideration including how on-the-spot fines would be financed.

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One option would be to employ a contractor with experience of such work and the other would be to recruit and train several officers to issue FPNs, both of which would have cost implications for the council.

Committee chair, Cllr Anthony Rowlands, explained that the committee had set up a working group to look into the issue and FPNs were seen as potentially, “another weapon in what is an ill-stocked armoury”.

Councils have been given the power to issue FPNs to fly tippers and the committee wanted the cabinet to look at applying the law as it stood, he explained.

Cllr Rowlands went on: “Fly-tipping is a growing problem that spoils the landscape and also costs the council £40,000 a year to clear up.

“We looked at this issue in September and after further work the committee has made a series of recommendations that we want to see pursued.

He went on: “Fixed Penalty Notices would be a major change and the committee felt we need such a new and forceful tool to deter people from illegally dumping rubbish.

“We also want to investigate whether the reduced hours at recycling centres has contributed to the problem. We will ask the county council for help in doing this.”

In addition, the committee also wanted more work with the police and greater efforts to raise awareness among residents of their responsibilities, Cllr Rowlands added.