AN intelligence-led strategy has been unveiled to tackle soaring large-scale fly-tipping in a town and claims that neighbourhoods are being “blighted” by dumped waste.

Darlington Borough Council figures show the number of incidents in which truck-loads of rubbish – usually comprising household items such as furniture or mattresses – rose by more than 110 per cent in 2017/18, compared with the totals for the previous two years.

Officers told a meeting of the authority’s place scrutiny committee their ability to tackle the issue had been hit by the council cutting street cleaning funding by 40 per cent in 2016/17.

The majority of the 210 large-scale incidents last year were in back lanes, on council land or roadsides, and usually involved house clearance traders.

Hurworth councillor Joe Kelley called for action, saying areas of Darlington, had become blighted and were recognised by rogue traders as places where they could regularly dump waste without fear.

He said: “You have the kids playing out in those back lanes and they go through that fly-tip and start playing with it. From metal to wood to dangerous chemicals. It’s almost a given that as trader you can dump it there because Darlington Borough Council will be there to pick it up. It’s like a broken window syndrome where people feel miserable because it’s constantly there. When you live there it is an absolute misery.”

Officers told the meeting while falling resources had seen investigations into fly-tipping drop over the last three years, last year saw the number of prosecutions rise by more than 150 per cent, to 105.

Ian Williams, the authority’s director of economic growth and neighbourhood services, said recent decisions to inject £300,000 into the Street Scene department and £100,000 to create a Community Safety Unit would boost both the removal and enforcement of fly-tipping.

For 13 hours a day there will be up to four officers to tackle incidents such as fly-tipping. The officers will use intelligence to prioritise their areas of work and geographical location.

Mr Williams said: “The guys on the street are doing a really difficult and excellent job of tidying up the alleys. A lot of us wouldn’t particularly want to do that. With the additional resource, hopefully we will be able to tackle that, but we won’t be able to tackle everything because we are still nowhere near the resources we used to have.”

He said a data analyst would start examining fly-tipping problem areas and the authority would seek to prosecute fly-tippers whenever it had evidence.

Mr Williams added the authority also planned to work more closely with police and other partners to crackdown on illegally dumped waste.

Seen incidents of fly-tipping, tell us where or send us pictures

Seen incidents of fly-tipping, tell us where or send us pictures

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