FLYTIPPING IS the scourge of our communities – it’s bad for people and places.
The photographs you can see on this page are of the thoroughly-depressing scene that I visited last week.
Although I am Council Leader, I remain a ward member and am still always there to look after Hollinwood matters alongside my colleagues, Councillors Steve Williams and Brian Ames.
A local resident came to see me and told me about this carnage, just behind the cemetery off Limeside Road, last Friday afternoon.
When I got there I was shocked at the scale of the mess. A picture says a thousand words and, honestly, how do people look at themselves in the mirror after doing something like this?
I’m told it seems to have happened between 9.30am and 3.30pm last Wednesday – so it was in broad daylight and utterly shameless.
I rolled my sleeves up and started to sift through the mess on the site.
There was what looks like removed render and other builders’ rubble and lots of bags – including some which contained what appeared to be stripped wallpaper.
The way it was all strewn along the floor in a trail (pictured) suggests it was on the back of a flatbed truck. They probably just dropped the guard at the back and then drove off at speed to dump it.
The contents this time appear to be trade waste but we also often find flytipping to be the result of another eviction by a rogue landlord. Either way, there’s simply no excuse.
In and amongst the filth and debris I finally located what I was hoping to find: tell-tale signs of where the rubbish might have originated from.
There was a letter and a slip containing two separate addresses of people with the same surname. Coincidence? Time – and our investigation – will tell.
I photographed these and reported everything to council officers who then swung into action and got on investigating the matter.
Our environmental services and enforcement staff do a great job in cleaning up scenes like this on a regular basis but it’s a thankless and disheartening task.
They also work very hard to find the people responsible by looking for evidence of the original owner of the dumped items.
In May this year all local authorities were given greater powers to tackle flytipping crime by now being able to issue penalty notices of between £150 and £400 to those caught in the act of dumping anything from old fridges or sofas to garden waste or rubble.
The maximum fine for dumping waste has also been bumped up to £3m for companies and up to £95,000 for individuals.
Even low-level offenders could face a bill of up to £10,000 and three years in jail.
Crime like this – and that’s exactly what it is – costs our economy and you, the Council Taxpayer, millions of pounds each year.
It also undermines legitimate business, and poses serious risks to the environment because it doesn’t just blight the area, it attracts vermin and is a health hazard.
For me, actions speak louder than words.
If you flytip it speaks volumes about you: about your outlook and attitude to society.
Dumping your waste by the road, whether that’s in an alleyway, the countryside or a random industrial estate, is about as selfish as you can get.
That’s why Oldham Council will have absolutely no qualms about using those new powers to punish anyone caught doing this.
These ‘on the spot’ fixed penalty notices could also save us time and money in punishing offenders as they are a much quicker alternative to prosecuting through the courts.
We’ll also continue to prosecute whenever we have sufficient evidence – and continue working closely with neighbouring authorities to jointly pursue cases that are happening across our borders.
The money we spend on clearing up mess like this could be saved and spent on other vital services that people rely on. In the current financial climate this simply cannot continue.
We rely on the public’s help in reporting flytipping and helping us to identify the people responsible.
Please do your bit and let us know whenever you spot flytipping – or have information about it – by calling us on 0161 770 2244 or reporting it online here.
To end on a much happier note this week, I just want to say congratulations to Carolyn Wilkins.
Our Chief Executive was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List last weekend and it was fully deserved.
It’s an accolade that highlights her brilliant work and long-standing service to Local Government and Public Service Reform.
It’s also yet another positive reflection on the way that people are starting to recognise the great progress that is being made here in Oldham.
I’m very proud to work alongside Carolyn and also to be able to consider her as a valued friend.
I’m sure all who know her across and beyond our borough will join me in congratulating her on this news.