Joanna Mowat: Fly-tipping penalties must be tidied up

Leaving a bag next to a bin can incur a �200 fine. Picture: Kenny Smith
Leaving a bag next to a bin can incur a �200 fine. Picture: Kenny Smith
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We are all familiar with the trip to the supermarket, recycling centre, on-street bin or recycling point, clutching our bag of rubbish, carefully separated and determined to do the right thing. Only to find when we get to our chosen bin that it’s full – what do you do?

Frequently there’s rubbish piled up around the bins so you might put your box down next to the packaging bin or stuff the paper into the paper container.

You might get away with it – but increasingly you might not.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who don’t get away with it, it will cost you £200. That’s £200 for trying to do the right thing.

That’s not fair. Most of us will agree that dropping litter is wrong and people who casually drop their fag butts and wrappers on the street should be fined. The fine for littering is £80 for what is antisocial behaviour. The £200 fine is issued for fly-tipping which is presenting waste in the wrong place. Is disposing of a whole flat’s rubbish when you clear it out at the end of a let the same as trying to recycle or putting one bag of waste out on the wrong day and should it carry the same fine?

There are some people to whom I would happily dish out £200 fines – those people who blight communities with litter next to on-street communal bins.

I am becoming increasingly concerned that the ruling administration of the council cannot see the difference and is not providing the proper information which would allow residents to take informed decisions.

There are no labels on the large residual waste containers or the recycling containers telling people that it’s a £200 fine if they leave waste next to the bin rather than in the bin.

Labelling the bins with this information would allow people to be aware of the consequences if they did leave their waste next to the bin. It would also act as a deterrent to fly-tipping which is a cause of many complaints to the council.

Labels on the bin inform people at the point where they might commit the offence that what they are about to do (put rubbish next to bin) is an offence and they can then choose whether to take the rubbish home, find another bin or take the risk of a fine. This would be fair.

If fines are to be issued because residents are putting rubbish next to bins rather than in the bin then the bins need to be emptied more regularly so that there is room for the waste.

Rubbish collection is a universal service and if the council chooses to try and alter behaviour by increasing the fines it levies on wrong behaviour then it should ensure that the service it provides is sufficient to meet demand.

The solution is therefore simple – empty the bins when needed and label them to let people know that leaving a box beside a bin is fly-tipping.

Joanna Mowat is the Conservative councillor for the City Centre ward