REDCAR and Cleveland Council could hire a specialist enforcement company to operate in ‘hot spot’ fly-tipping areas.

Last year the council removed 1,229 tonnes of fly-tipped waste from across the borough, which council chiefs say is “unacceptable and quite simply will not be tolerated”.

A newly agreed cleaner borough strategy setting out how the council will keep the area clean and tidy over the next two years suggests a private firm could be employed to help with preventing litter in the worst areas and to bolster available capacity.

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A report outlining the strategy said the council faced borough-wide issues with fly-tipping and had a “finite resource” to carry out cleaning work and “could not be everywhere”.

Feedback from council members, which was sought prior to the drawing up of the strategy, said the authority’s stance on fly-tipping had not been strong enough on occasions.

They also said there may be a need to revisit resource levels in order to deliver upon the aspirations for a cleaner borough. 

Councillor Barry Hunt, who held the council’s neighbourhoods and portfolio up until April this year in his role as a former cabinet member, told a meeting of the cabinet, which agreed the strategy, that one problem was not enough staff.

He said: “Littering is a big problem and our lads try their best, but we just don’t have enough of them to do the job.”

The strategy pinpointed an increase in visitor numbers to the coast and countryside in the borough as putting a “significant strain” on available resources.

It said: “The increase in visitors over the past year, particularly in early evening, presents a significant strain on resources at peak times, with maintaining operative cover on evenings and weekends meaning that there isn’t always the staff available to provide cover through the week. 

“Resources are increasingly having to be used to respond to demand, rather than follow routine maintenance schedules.”

It also described how during spells of good weather the borough’s tourist attractions were “left a mess” with individuals choosing to dump their waste, rather than put it in a bin or take it home. 

The document calls for “collective responsibility” to be taken over litter, adding: “The council will play its part to keep the borough clean and tidy, clearing up waste, however keeping the borough clean is not just the job of the council. 

“It is important to be clear that everyone who lives in, works in, owns property, or visits the borough has a responsibility to keep the borough clean and tidy, disposing of their waste accordingly.”

The strategy said more people could be “galvanised” into carrying out litter picks as there was a “strong sense of pride” among many residents, and a number of community groups, as well as individual residents, were already taking action in this way.

In practical terms the responsibility for litter picking and street cleansing sits within the ‘street scene’ section of the council’s environment service.

The strategy said there had been an increase of eight full-time equivalent posts within the section over the last 18 months, while four full-time equivalent roles were being added on a temporary basis.

It said the street scene team was supported by the council’s enforcement team, whose job it is to discharge the council’s legal duties over environmental and waste offences, but also parking offences. 

There were currently 19 enforcement staff employed by the authority, although their time was split between environment offences and car parking enforcement.

The strategy aims to continue a drive to improve recycling rates in Redcar and Cleveland – which have gone backwards in recent years.

The council is planning a 12 month trial in which it will provide replacement/additional recycling bins free of charge following feedback from a borough-wide residents survey.

It intends to work with private landowners to “ensure clarity of responsibility” in terms of collecting waste from private land, as well as regularly reviewing bin infrastructure to “ensure the right receptacles are in the right places”.

Work will also be undertaken with takeaways and food premises in a bid to reduce littering from used food packaging.

Cllr Hunt said there was a problem with bins being pinched in some residential areas.

He said: “Some people have been waiting a very long time for replacement bins, having paid for them.”

The council previously considered a plan to roll-out microchipped bins, but this was later shelved.

Cllr Hunt also suggested private landlords should take more responsibility for bins in terms of their tenants.

Councillor Julie Craig, the cabinet member for neighbourhoods, highways and transport, said: “Residents regularly tell me how important it is to them to live in an area that is clean and tidy and as a council we are committed to improving the physical appearance of the borough which means that we need to ensure we make best use of the resources we have to ensure the borough looks the best it can.

 “An action plan has been developed by the council which will focus on developing and strengthening clear communications messages focused on taking care of the borough, reviewing policy and process to ensure they are robust, strengthening and improving our enforcement capacity, engaging with the community and developing a community champions programme and initiating an education campaign on the importance of taking care of the environment.

“The cleaner borough strategy helps to set out how we will structure and deliver this important work.”

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