Tackling fly-tipping in Newham one coffin at a time

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane - Credit: Archant

Coffins, sofas, and beds are just some of the things cleansing officers have had to pick up while tackling the scourge of fly-tipping in the borough.

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane - Credit: Archant

In one year, Newham Council spends in the region of £10million taking care of fly-tips, of which approximately £8million goes towards vehicle and staffing cost.

Between 2013-14, 6,275 fixed penalty notices were given out to people who littered. Altogether the borough dealt with a whopping 67,930 cases of fly-tipping, higher than anywhere else in the country.

The council are calling on residents to help win the battle against illegal rubbish dumping by encouraging them to report any litter they come across in public streets via a phone “app” that was launched in May 2014.

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane - Credit: Archant

Once residents report the rubbish via the app, cleansing officers will be notified of the address and are then able to head out to clean the rubbish up.

John Wild, who heads the cleansing team, said officers pick up around 300 tonnes of litter every day.

“Cleaner streets makes people feel safer and that’s a fact, he said. “We share the frustrations of the majority of residents who want to live on clean streets and building relationships with them is always important to us.”

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane - Credit: Archant

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Around 220 cleansing officers and 70 enforcement officers take to the streets every week to tackle the problem of fly-tipping, which continues to blight the borough.

Cleansing officer Ron Jude said he picks up to three tonnes of rubbish a day.

“We find all sorts of things from beds fridges and freezers. We used to get a lot of TVs but not anymore,” he said.

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane - Credit: Archant

“We even found a coffin once, it was a full sized coffin. We had a lot of fun with that one.”

Residents who are caught littering can be given £80 fines and, in more serious cases, can also face prosecution.

Strategic enforcement manager, Al Thomas, said: “What we would really like to see is the fines being increased to £1,000 for larger fly-tips. It would act as a deterrent. The more serious cases, we will still prosecute.”

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane - Credit: Archant

Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, added: “It’s only a small number of people and its getting at these people and stopping them that matters.

“It’s an absolute scandal they get away with very little fines,” he added: “It costs us £8 million pounds to do the cleaning, fines should reflect that.

“Fines should be in the hundreds and hundreds of pounds because people need to learn you shouldn’t do it.”

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane - Credit: Archant

Residents can report environmental issues straight to the council by downloading the Love Newham app to their smartphones.

Visit newham.gov.uk for more information.

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane

Enforcement officer Sharon Vane - Credit: Archant

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