Shock figures have revealed Hyndburn to be the ‘fly-tipping capital of the country’.
The Observer can reveal that Hyndburn council investigates and takes action on fly-tipping more than any other local authority in the UK, leading some to say that the borough is being treated ‘like a dustbin’.
According to government figures the council took action 20,210 times over fly-tipping cases, more than Manchester and Liverpool combined.
The council sent out 8,117 warning letters about fly-tipping, double the amount of the next authority, Newham council, which sent out 4,000 letters.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who have released the fly-tipping figures, have estimated that Hyndburn council has spent £360,000 investigating claims in the past year.
It was also estimated that the council has spent a further quarter of a million pounds sending out warning letters about fly-tipping in the last year – landing taxpayers with a total bill of more than £600,000.
Neighbouring boroughs of Rossendale, Burnley, Pendle and Blackburn collectively spent £480,000 investigating claims.
Joanne Cross, 42, who has recently had problems with fly-tipping outside her business in Oswaldtwistle, said: “There is a story every week about fly-tipping, it is like the fly-tipping capital of the country.
“I think the amount of money that is being spent is ridiculous and doesn’t seem to be having much effect. I had a dump outside my business for months.”
She added: “I do agree that people need to take responsibility themselves for rubbish and I think they do, but a minority treat the place like a dustbin.”
Nova Desoer, 37, had a ‘massive pile’ of rubbish at the back of her home in Maudsley Street, Accrington for several months.
She said that the amount of money spent on investigations and action against fly-tipping does not tally with her experience.
Nova said: “I don’t feel like we are getting a service at all, they only do something when it gets really bad.
“I am not getting value for money at all. Every street in Accrington needs cleaning – it is filthy.
“My friend comes over to visit from another area and she cannot believe it is this dirty.”
Conservative leader Tony Dobson said: “I am shocked by these figures, when I drive through the borough I feel that it is probably now at its most untidy.
“One thing which may be contributing to fly-tipping is that it is getting harder and harder to dump rubbish at the tip and also to hire a skip.”
He added: “If we are spending that amount of money on enforcement we really need to look at this again.”
But Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said: “I am proud to say that Hyndburn is the cleanest borough in East Lancashire.
“The council would not have to send so many letters and investigate so many claims if people were not dumping rubbish. The council does and should take a robust position on fly-tipping, it ruins the borough.
“We have got to be proactive and tough against those who offend.”
Miles Parkinson, Hyndburn council leader, said: “When I was first elected to the council the number one issue was litter and dog fouling, it still is and it will be long after I have retired.
“We are proactive in taking care of those issues and in every resident survey the council’s response is seen as positive.”