Midlothian Council looking at new measures to crackdown on environmental offences

Midlothian Council is considering a range of measures to crackdown on fly-tipping, dog fouling and dropping litter.

A different way of working is needed to deal with offenders and deter others, councillors heard.
A different way of working is needed to deal with offenders and deter others, councillors heard.

At the full Council meeting on Tuesday, councillors approved recommendations including looking at the benefits and costs of contracting out enforcement.

Councillors heard that while the council’s Environmental Health Service and Police Scotland’s Midlothian Community Action Team have worked well together over the past year, and three people have been charged with fly-tipping offences, resources are stretched.

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Cabinet member for waste services, Councillor John Hackett (Lab), said: “Fly-tipping, dog fouling and litter are among the concerns we get most complaints about. However, investigating and clearing incidences of these offences can be labour intensive and costly.

"We want to improve the way the council responds to these issues by looking at different ways of dealing with the problem, including exploring the use of external contractors to work with our teams to enforce it.

"This would be combined with other measures, including making sure we’re using the Midlothian Community Action Team and Midlothian Partnership Against Rural Crime as a network to share intelligence.”

The council will consider setting up CCTV at fly-tipping hotspots, clearing fly-tipped materials within set timescales, and publicising fixed penalty notices issued and convictions. They will also look at making sure local communities know where to find companies who they can trust to dispose of their unwanted waste legitimately.

Councillors also approved recommendations to develop a Midlothian Environmental Crime Strategy and to set-up a Midlothian Neighbourhood & Environmental Improvement Group within the council’s Neighbourhood Services. A council officer on the improvement group would then work with community champions, groups and representatives to co-ordinate initiatives such as community litter picking.

The council will report back regularly on its progress to the Police and Fire & Rescue Board. A further report on the cost of contracting out the work and the environmental crime strategy will be considered by councillors in the coming months.