New powers could see on-the-spot fines of £400 for Northampton fly-tippers

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People spotted fly-tipping in Northampton are now at risk of a large fine following the advent of new council powers.

Officers of Northampton Borough Council are as of this month empowered to give a fixed penalty notice for anyone dumping rubbish in a public place.

Previously, such offences have been dealt with in magistrates courts but the council believes penalty notices are a “more efficient and proportionate”

Councillor Alan Bottwood, cabinet member for the environment, said: “Fly-tipping is a major concern to many people in Northampton and, by focusing on this, we hope to make a real difference to the town and surrounding area.

“It is hoped that the introduction of the new fixed penalties for fly-tipping will have a deterrent to potential offenders and result in a reduction in the number of cases.”

Fly-tipping is both a common offence and an expensive one for the tax payer.

In 2014/15 local authorities in England reported 900,000 cases of fly-tipping at a cost of £50 million to clear. During the same period, Northampton Borough Council received 9,172 reports of fly-tipping.

A scheme for the removal of fly-tipping from alleyways and other private land in Northampton has removed over 100 tonnes of waste.

In the last three years, 14 prosecutions have been taken and seven simple cautions have been issued for fly-tipping and waste offences.

However, such actions are complex and lengthy, tying up staff for long periods and even then are not guaranteed to be successful.

The new legislation gives councils the power to set the level of fixed penalty within the range of £150 to £400, with the default being £200 if no other amount is specified.

In Northampton the average cost of dealing with a fly-tip is £233.28. It is likely that fixed penalties in Northampton will have to at least cover that cost.