Ashfield District Council fights back with 'zero tolerance' approach to environmental crime
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It says it is taking a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to stamp out illegal and thoughtless acts to coincide with the arrival of summer when littering becomes ‘a real issue across the district’.
The hard-hitting crackdown come just three months after the council took the first step in its new approach with the introduction of a dedicated team of environmental enforcement officers.
They can be seen out and about patrolling town centres, parks and green spaces and other high footfall areas as part of the clampdown on litterbugs.
And since April, they have issued 1,431 fines to culprits – with 1,316 given to folk for dropping cigarette ends.
Now with summer finally here and more and more people set to head to the area’s parks and green spaces, council chiefs are calling on residents to ‘stop and think’ before they leave litter.
The council has 1,200 litter bins across its district and it says ‘not being close to one’ is not an excuse to leave litter behind – with it spending thousands of pounds clearing away waste which it says could be channeled into improving playgrounds, planting and park facilities.
Coun Helen-Ann Smith, the council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “This zero tolerance approach should make residents think twice before they chose to drop litter.
"It could make for a very expensive coffee if you chose to dump your cup rather than take it home to put in the bin.
“We have 1,200 bins across the district that we aim to empty at least once per week, but if you’re not close to a bin then we ask that you carry your rubbish to the closest bin or take it home and dispose of it.”
As well as litter, the environmental enforcement team is also tackling dog fouling and 12 fixed penalty notices have already been issued to owners for not clearing up after their pet.
Council bosses say folk should bag up their pooch’s mess and place it in a dog waste bin or take home to put in the bin.
And to highlight the issue, the council has recently created dog poo trees in four of its parks, including Titchfield Park in Hucknall.
Coun Jason Zadrozny council leader, said: “If you’ve taken the time to pick up your dog’s mess it baffles me as to why it then seems okay to hang that bag off a tree, hedge or even leave it on the floor.
"Nobody wants to see your dog’s mess anywhere other than in the bin.”
As well as dog poo trees, banners have been put in parks and hotspots with the message ‘Councils don’t leave dog poo – owners do’.
Coun Zadrozny continued: “As with litter, we spend thousands of pounds clearing up dog mess, money that would be better spent elsewhere.
“We’re hoping that through the environmental enforcement team and the littering campaign, that we can help educate residents and drastically reduce the amount of littering in the district.”
As well as public environmental crime, the council is targeting trade waste and its community safety, environmental health and waste services have visited businesses across the district as part of efforts to keep town centres clean and safe.
The teams ensure compliance with trade waste regulations, with every business having a legal responsibility for disposing waste – including its safe storage,
completing a waste transfer note for each load of rubbish leaving its premises and ensuring it uses a registered carrier.
As part of its action, the council has spoken to more than 200 businesses – which saw 72 unable to produce copies of their waste transfer notes.
If businesses produce documentation or sign an agreement within seven days, no further action is taken – but failure can result in a £300 fine.
Seven fixed penalty notices were issued to businesses for serious environmental breaches.
Coun David Martin, cabinet member for streets, parks and town centres, said: “Businesses create a lot of waste.
"It is their responsibility to dispose of this in the correct and legal way.
"Not doing this can quite often result in fly tipping.
"Through their week of action, the council officers were able to engage with businesses, educate them on the ways to dispose of their waste and ensure that they are compliant with environmental protection regulations.”
Meanwhile, the community protection team has issued 39 fines for fly-tipping – with the council revealing how offenders do not always dump their rubbish along rural lanes.
It recently fined a resident who had left three bags of waste at the end of their neighbour’s drive, while another fly-tipper was hit in the pocket for dumping bags of waste on a neighbouring street and one for leaving furniture outside their house.
Coun Zadrozny said: “People usually think of fly-tips as commercial and household waste dumped down a country lane, that’s not the case.
"We receive reports every day of waste bags dumped on streets and furniture turning up on street corners.
"Every fly-tip reported is fully investigated before it’s removed.
"The fines received for fly-tipping are higher than the cost of having waste removed legally.”