Durham County Council’s successful crackdown on flytippers

A North East council is reporting a huge increase in fines against flytippers and a big drop in flytipping overall.

Durham County Council, which was taken over by cross-party joint administration last year has made major changes to its warden structure and is cracking down on environmental fines more than ever before.

Councillor Mark Wilkes, the cabinet member leading the changes explains, “Over the last eighteen months since we took over running the council we’ve made some significant positive changes to the way the warden service operates and this is now having a major positive impact.

“Flytipping cases are significantly down and as a county we are seeing outstanding performance. A significant part of this success is down to the reorganisation of the warden management structure and the policies we have implemented.

The Councillor says there has been a real focus by officers on not only catching culprits but also on making sure that we hit them hard with fines, and publicise successes.

Fines for flytipping have increased from £1852 in 2020 to £27,192 under the joint administration in just one year. The long term average over the previous five years was £5253.

Councillor Wilkes continues, “The huge increase in fines is a testament to just how well our teams are doing and how well the joint administration is performing.

“We are now reviewing flytipping fines too. Currently discounts for early payment of fines for basic flytipping is nearly 60% with charges of £180 if paid early compared to £400 if not.”

Councillor Wilkes believes these discounts are excessive and by further increasing fines the council will have an even stronger disincentive for the crime of flytipping.

Another positive change the council has made is to bring in a dedicated team to clear filthy yards and gardens.

Councillor Bev Coult, Chair of Environment Scrutiny says, “Previously it might have taken months to sort out filthy yards, and in some cases issues were not addressed at all. That just allowed even bigger piles of rubbish and flytipping to build up.”

The new yard clearance team sits directly with the warden service. This removes red tape and means that noxious waste like dog fouling, food waste and other such rubbish in yards and gardens is now getting cleared rapidly and in some cases within a matter of days. The council are also recovering the cost of the vast majority of this work.

Councillor Coult adds, “By cracking down at all levels on flytipping and waste issues we are able to really benefit residents lives. I would urge residents to report in filthy yards and gardens. The sooner we clear this waste the fewer knock on problems we see and the benefit is clear for all residents.”

The council has been regularly reporting in the press significant fines for flytipping. It is even crushing the vehicles of culprits. The rate of flytipping in County Durham is now just over 10 incidents per 1000 residents. This compares to over 50 in Newcastle, 40 in North Tyneside and 35 in Sunderland.

The yard clearance team has cleared dozens of yards.

Flytipping and filthy yards and gardens can be reported to the Council on their website, or by emailing help@durham.gov.uk or calling 03000 260 000. All calls are treated confidentially.