Walsall to trial free street skips to tackle fly-tipping

Walsall to trial free street skips after rise in fly-tippingWith the problem of fly-tipping seemingly never-ending, Walsall Council has proposed an unusual solution: free street skips in every ward.

Cleaning up fly-tipped waste cost Walsall £426,000 in 2017, according to figures from the national fly-tipping database ‘Flycapture’, while across England in 2016/17 councils paid more than £57 million to deal with 1.02 million incidents, money that could have been spent on vital and hard-pressed public services.

Data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) revealed that household waste accounted for two-thirds (67 per cent) of all incidents during that period.

In Walsall, preliminary data for the first quarter of 2018/19 shows that 28.5 per cent of fly-tipping incidents contained items of bulky household waste, while the rest included excess bagged domestic waste and commercial waste.

At its upcoming cabinet meeting on 5 September, Walsall Council will discuss a number of proposed methods to tackle fly-tipping, including putting a free skip in each of the authority’s 20 wards for the deposit of bulky household items. Items placed in the skips would be collected by the council, free of charge, on a designated ‘skip day’ each week.

This would be introduced on a 10-week trial basis, from 21 January to 31 March 2019, and the total cost to the council – including labour, vehicles and skip hire – would be £1,840 per day. Also mooted are a 13-week trial of a free kerbside collection service for bulky household waste, at a cost of £22,000, as well as extended opening hours for the council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres.

Providing free skip and collection services to householders, at a cost to the council, could seem like an unusual measure moving away from tackling fly-tipping through communications or enforcement. In fact, across England, data from Defra for 2016/17 showed that enforcement actions against fly-tipping actually fell by four per cent from the previous year, despite rising numbers of incidents.

However, if the trials go ahead and successfully reduce the number of incidents in the area, Walsall Council could ultimately save money that would have been spent on collecting and cleaning up fly-tipped waste. Alongside the trials, the council is proposing to expand its communications campaign in order to better inform residents about the correct disposal of waste. The monetary reward for people providing intel on fly-tipping that leads to a prosecution could also be increased (from £100 to £500).

Commenting on the proposals, Cllr Louise Harrison said: "We're planning to trial a number of initiatives to make it easier for our residents to legally dispose of their waste. But if they don't, our stance is one of zero tolerance.

"Having given residents the opportunity to do the right thing, we hope to see a reduction both in the number of fly-tipping incidents and also in the costs of collecting and disposing of the waste."

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