THE council's tough stance on fly-tipping is a load of old rubbish according to figures for the number of people caught and punished for dumping waste. According to the statistics it provides to the government, there were 11,150 instances of fly-tipping in the borough in 2012/13 but the council failed to prosecute anyone. In fact, it only managed to take action – including issuing warning letters and fixed penalty notices – in a pitiful 0.98 per cent of cases. Croydon Council has often talked up its no nonsense approach to fly-tipping but those responsible are hardly likely to quake in fear to learn that, of the 41,753 instances over a seven year period, there were only 16 prosecutions. In contrast, Camden had similar levels of fly-tipping last year and took action in nearly 6,000 cases. Croydon blamed budget cuts which had "limited the numbers of actions we have been able to take" and that prosecutions "is an area we are looking to more work on". Stuart Collins, Labour's spokesman for environment and highways, described the figures as "pathetic". "This proves the council is all mouth and no trousers when it comes to catching fly-tippers," he said. A report produced by the council and published in April said fly-tipping had increased 26 per cent, from 4,554 in 2011/12 to 5,623 in 2012/13. But data provided by the council to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) suggests those statistics significantly underestimate the amount of fly-tipping. They show there were 11,150 instances of fly-tipping in 2012/13 – more than double amount in 2006/07. While the council has long had an inconsistent record when it comes to taking action against those dumping waste, the figures show a significant drop in enforcement since more than £1 million was cut from the budget for teams tasked with tackling the problem. The council has recently announced an extra £100,000 of measures but these latest numbers will fuel those who have dismissed the investment as a cynical ploy ahead of next May's local elections. There were 9,632 instances of fly-tipping between April and November this year. Thornton Heath and West Thornton were the worst-affected wards with 2,000 combined. Labour has commissioned its own independent review of the issue in the north of the borough and Cllr Collins, of Broad Green, said: "The Conservatives have been in power for seven years but have only now allocated more money to fly-tipping. These figures prove it's not enough. "Fly-tipping is out of control, especially in the north of the borough, and these statistics confirm what many already know – the council is incapable of tackling this issue." This time last year the council launched Keep it Clean, a borough-wide campaign to targeting fly-tipping, cigarette butts, dog fouling and graffiti. It spent an extra £100,000 on cleaning the streets and a further £200,000 on punishing those responsible. In August it signed a deal which sees a private security firm paid £45 for every litter fine its staff hand out. Of the 1,571 fines dished out between then and the beginning of December, 92 per cent were to smokers who dropped their cigarettes. But the council has had nowhere near as much success when it comes to fly-tippers. Asked why it had taken action in just 0.98 per cent of cases in 2012/13 and 1.3 per cent in 2011/12, a council spokesman said: "This has been a period of time when the relevant council services have been undergoing a significant restructure meaning that several vacant posts have not been filled. "This has been coupled with an ongoing review of many processes and has limited the numbers of actions we have been able to take." When asked why only 0.03 per cent of cases between April 2006 and March 2013 had led to a prosecution, the spokesman added: "This is an area we are now looking to do more work on. "Additional officers will soon be in post and our current investment of an additional £100,000 on anti-fly-tipping measures will undoubtedly lead to more prosecutions." The authority said the way it records the stats makes comparison with other boroughs difficult but, in contrast to Croydon, Ealing had half the number of fly-tipping incidents in 2012/13 yet took action 4,719 times. There have been small signs of improvement so far this year. Earlier this month Iesha Price, from Battersea, was fined £535 for dumping rubbish opposite House of Reeves furniture store. Council enforcement officers caught her after finding a prescription with her name on it in the rubble. She was only prosecuted after failing to pay a fixed penalty notice. In March the council destroyed a van belonging to a fly-tipper who dumped waste at a builders' yard even though it was a few hundred metres from a recycling centre.
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