Mid Sussex District Council needs to do more to combat scourge of fly tipping, says councillor

A Lib Dem councillor is calling for Mid Sussex District Council to take action against fly tippers in the area.

Councillor Simon Hicks (Burgess Hill – Leylands) said reports of fly tipping in the district increased by more than 50 per cent in the first half of 2021 when compared with last year.

This, he said, highlighted the need for Mid Sussex District Council to investigate and prosecute fly tipping.

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“I am concerned that the council has been dragging its heels in combating this scourge,” said Mr Hicks, adding that the Liberal Democrats have been pushing the council to issue Fixed Penalty Notices against fly tippers.

Fly tipping in New Way Lane on Wolstonbury Hill.

“Despite first agreeing powers to enable it to issue these in 2014, the council still has no trained officers in issuing penalties, although the council’s most recent commitment was for this to be implemented by November,” said Mr Hicks.

He went on to say that the council has powers to prosecute fly tippers in the courts and did not understand why ‘it has taken so long to build in the capacity to issue fixed penalties’.

“All I am asking for in this instance is for the council to take more immediate investigative action to follow up clear evidence of illegal waste disposal,” he said.

Mr Hicks also said the online form for reporting fly tipping does not give a receipt or request details that might lead to enforcement action, adding that it is sent directly to the council’s contractor without formal review by the council.

“The response I had was there is no statutory duty to investigate and/ or pursue enforcement action in respect of fly tipping,” he said.

“However, I would argue, there is a clear expectation from residents and central government that the Council should use its powers to investigate fly-tipping incidents, prosecuting fly-tippers and recovering clearance costs where possible.”

Mr Hicks said the council has a ‘generally prompt’ system for removing fly tipping on public land and said it is the duty of private landowners to remove any from their own property.

“It is up to us all to ensure we use registered waste disposal operators to remove rubbish, and I would still encourage any evidence of fly tipping to be sent to the council, but to ensure their local councillor is copied in to follow up,” he said.

Councillor Alison Bennett (Lib Dems, Hurstpierpoint and Downs) agreed with Mr Hicks that the District Council must start taking action against fly tippers.

“Fly tipping in our towns, villages and rural lanes is a bane for many people,” she said.

“Residents need to have confidence that enforcement action will be taken whenever possible, and that those who commit this crime are not getting away with it scot-free.”

Councillor John Belsey, MSDC Cabinet Member for Environment and Service Delivery said: “I am pleased my fellow councillors recognise that fly tipping is a scourge and acknowledge that the Council deals with cases promptly.”

“In Mid Sussex we take all incidents seriously and we have fewer fly tips than most of our West Sussex neighbours,” he added.

Mr Belsey said Mid Sussex District Council ‘will always investigate and take appropriate action’ where there is evidence.

But he said: “It is extremely difficult to establish who is responsible in most cases and the weight of evidence required is significant.

“I can assure residents that, where possible, we investigate.”

Mr Belsey went on to say that the District Council is working on a jointly funded ‘Lets SCRAP Fly Tipping’ campaign with West Sussex Waste Partnership, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Environment Agency, and other partners.

He said: “This campaign highlights the problems that fly tipping causes and advises residents on how they can avoid inadvertently contributing to the problem by asking any traders they employ how their waste will be disposed of and requesting the necessary paperwork.”