New crime team to clean up Midlothian and bring in cash

A new crime team is set to be launched to tackle fly-tippers, dog fouling and litter in a move which could bring in £105,000 in fines to Midlothian Council.

By Marie Sharp, LDR
Monday, 14th February 2022, 4:33 pm
Stock photo of fly-tipping.
Stock photo of fly-tipping.

Councillors will be asked to approve a 12-month trial of a new environmental crime team at a virtual meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

The new officers will be empowered to hand out penalties for a range of breaches, with a report to council estimating that it could generate around 3,500 fines over the year bringing an income of £105,000.

Elected members will be presented with a range of options for the new team, ranging from increasing the current number of parking attendants and extending the additional powers to them, or creating a separate new team run either by the council or the company which provides the parking attendants dedicated to the new powers only.

They will also be told that after costs the profits from the scheme is estimated to be more than £51,000 in one year.

The report says: “In all options, the council would retain all income derived from Fixed Penalty Notices, which would offset costs.

“It is expected that income will decrease over time as engagement and education, together with deterrence, increases, and there is a positive behaviour change.”

The move comes after the councillors called for a report into options last summer amid calls for tougher action against offenders.

During a meeting of the council it was claimed dog foulers and litterbugs were “running amok” in town centres.

Council leader Derek Milligan (Lab) said dog fouling was one of the biggest issues raised with him throughout his career in public service.

He said: “Dog fouling, fly-tipping and litter are top of feedback from the public and the failure of this council to tackle it. Successive councils have tried to get to grips with it and have failed.

“We have parking enforcement and this is a very similar way of bringing in the private sector.”

SNP councillor Colin Cassidy said during a visit to Belfast he had seen the change in attitudes brought in by dishing out fines to people who littered.

He said: “They changed it by bringing in wardens, I don’t care if they come from the moon, if they are private or whatever, we have got to change and change the mindset.

“These people need to learn a lesson, they are running amok in our town centres and it needs to be stopped.”