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Colossal milestone reached in illegal dumping crackdown

Published: Tuesday, 8th August 2023

A crackdown on illegal dumping across Stoke-on-Trent has seen a 100-day target to clear 1,000 cases smashed in less than half the time.

Colossal milestone reached in illegal dumping crackdown

A crackdown on illegal dumping across Stoke-on-Trent has seen a 100-day target to clear 1,000 cases smashed in less than half the time. And now councillors are urging communities: ‘work with us to keep your alleyways clean.’

In June, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s new administration pledged to tackle the scourge of illegally dumped waste. Supported by investment through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, this pledge was backed with extra CCTV cameras that can be deployed in hotspot areas, additional clean-up crews, new enforcement officers, and two new 3.5 tonne clean-up tipper vans.

The investment and work of council teams have been backed by a high profile, zero tolerance campaign to use photos of dumped rubbish, name the streets and show where identification of the culprits has resulted in them being issued a £400 spot fine.

Over 1,000 incidents of illegal dumping have been cleared in fewer than 50 days – less than half the time pledged. The number of days from environment teams being made aware of dumped rubbish to the mess being cleared – and fines issued to culprits wherever possible – has also significantly reduced.

Council leaders have pledged to continue to tackle illegal dumpers and their rubbish, but have warned it is not possible to keep every street clear all of the time. They are calling on communities to come together and residents to continue to report people responsible for dumping waste. They can do this online at stoke.gov.uk/illegaldumping.

Council leader Jane Ashworth said: “After taking office in May, we vowed to quickly review council services, and the backlog of illegal dumping cases that our hard-working environment teams were facing immediately became glaringly obvious. That went alongside reports from fed-up residents who have to face the misery of rubbish dumped in their alleys and community spaces, often by their lazy and irresponsible neighbours who should know better.

“In May, we were faced with the reality of a backlog of 560 reported incidents, added with a further estimated 500 unreported incidents with a turnaround time of 30 days from reporting to clearing. We put in place swift action to tackle that.

“The teams have delivered and since 20 June, 1,123 incidents have been cleared. This campaign is delivering, and in less than half the time we pledged.

“But keeping our streets clear isn’t a matter for the council alone. We will never be able to keep every street clear all of the time. We know residents are fiercely proud of our city and just as we all wouldn’t expect people to dump rubbish in our gardens, we mustn’t accept it being dumped in our communities. Since we launched this campaign, the number of calls to report illegal dumping and culprits has increased. Tackling and fining the culprits, and improving the sense of local community with residents leading the way, is how we can all tackle this issue for the long-term.”

The number of incidents cleared equates to 689 skips full of rubbish, removed from back alleys, street fronts and community spaces right across the city. Hot spot areas where crews have spent more of their time clearing rubbish include terraced streets where there is a high density of housing, and crews have found that a high percentage of all the waste removed is in bags that people have taken out of their houses and left in alleyways without consideration of when their bin collection days are, leaving rubbish that can fester for days and cause a nuisance. They have also tackled builders’ rubble; and dumped sofas and mattresses that could either be recycled and used by charities across the city, or could have been taken by bulky waste collection teams for a £40 charge, instead of incurring a £400 penalty and blighting streets.

Now the authority is focusing its efforts on working with residents to keep communities clean, while still taking a zero-tolerance enforcement approach to dumped waste. A campaign is launching today (Tuesday) to educate residents on what waste goes in what bin, how to book waste collections and how to access the two household recycling centres in the city.

Cllr Amjid Wazir, cabinet member for environment and enforcement said: “The work does not stop here as we continue with a zero-tolerance approach to tackling illegal dumping in our towns. Now that the 1,000 cases have been cleared, we can begin to give that support and education to communities to help them to help themselves.

“Over the past month many residents have told us how unhappy they are that this issue blights our city, there is no excuse for people not disposing of their waste correctly. We are making our communities cleaner, brighter and more welcoming while taking firm action on those who insult their neighbours by illegally dumping their rubbish. We’re creating the opportunity for residents to take back their alleyways and community spaces, clear and safe from rubbish, and at a time when children are on school holidays and families can enjoy the outdoors and what our city has to offer.

“Now is the time for residents to take ownership of where they live and take pride in the city. The message remains clear: there is no place for illegal dumping in our towns.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council provides a weekly waste collection service, with additional side waste collections. The household waste recycling centres (tips) are situated in the north and south of the city, at Federation Road, Burslem, and Hanford, respectively. They are open 35 hours per week, where helpful staff are available to help visitors. The city council also offers a reasonably priced bulky waste collection service.