Posted: Fri 11th Oct 2013

New Council policy aimed at tackling environmental crime to be approved – but will it make any difference?

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Oct 11th, 2013

A policy which aims to improve Flintshire’s local environment, by addressing and reducing environmental crime, is expected to be approved by Cabinet on Tuesday(15 October). 

photo: deeside.com

Photo: Deeside.com

The Council’s Environmental Enforcement Policy will pull together all of the existing environmental enforcement powers into one single document, which will then act as a reference point for members of the public.

The policy will set out to explain the Council’s approach to environmental crime, and seek to add new powers to tackle common environmental enforcement issues, including the use of statutory powers to deal with abandoned supermarket trolleys. 

Councillor Kevin Jones, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Waste and Recycling, said: 


“We are keen to keep sending out the message that dog fouling, littering, fly tipping and graffiti is anti-social and will not be tolerated in Flintshire.”

While the council are “keen to keep sending out the message”  they are also empowering citizens to send messages in to the council via a new mobile phone app released at the beginning of October, the app has been primed to “crowdsource” reports of any potential issues.

new app

new app

It remains to be seen whether there will be a significant amount of users reporting issues to justify the councils investment in the app.

A previous attempt to use an app, called “Flintshire Doggy Doo” was launched in September 2012, it failed to make any impact on the major dog fouling issues around Deeside, the app gained some very mixed reviews  and failed to work on many devices.

Screenshot from 2013-10-11 10:22:20

The council was asked how much this app cost tax payers under the Freedom of Information act,  the request was refused on the grounds of “commercial sensitivity”

Other key issues being prioritised with the new “zero tolerance approach” include fly tipping, littering, and domestic bin bags being dumped on streets outside of collection times, which can all be reported via the app or the councils website.

“As well as the use of enforcement action where necessary, the objective of the new policy is include raising awareness of good waste management, dog control, and educating and working in partnership with residents and businesses in an attempt to change behaviour and attitudes to these crimes” says the council.

Parts of Deeside are being targeted by fly tippers on a regular basis blighting the communities they effect, council owned land is particularly vulnerable to fly tipping.(98 incidents of fly tipping on council owned land reported in 2012) 

One area of council owned land we have highlighted in Higher Shotton is being targeted by fly tippers dumping household contents and building materials, the grass was last cut by the council over 18 months ago, the area has becoming so degraded and derelict, it is an open invitation for people to dump rubbish.

Deeside.com has reported the problem on no fewer than 6 separate occasions, with no council department willing to take any responsibility for the land, we have been informed it belongs to “housing” the land backs on to 24 houses mostly privately owned.

20131006_180251

Photo: Deeside.com

A recent report by Carnegie trust highlights the impact that local environmental problems such as fly tipping has on the quality of lives for those individuals and neighbourhoods, they say:

“Deprived urban communities are clearly disproportionately affected by local environmental problems such as fly-tipping, the current pressures on public finances have naturally resulted in greater competition for resources, in these circumstances there is a danger of deprived areas losing out to more affluent areas with sharp elbows.” 

The Carnegie trust also offer some innovative community led solutions to the issue of fly tipping.

The council are monitored on how well they are performing in maintaining  the local environment by the Local Environmental Audit and Management System (LEAMS

The audit measures the Adverse Environmental Quality Indicators (AEQI) performance across 6 areas fly-posting, graffiti, dog fouling, vandalism, weeds and detritus

Last year Flintshire County Council was the 2nd worst performing local authority out of the 22 in Wales, and the councils perfomance measured through the Local Authority Cleanliness Index has seen a significant dip in performance by Flintshire versus 2011, as highlighted in our article “how clean are our streets”

Councillor Kevin Jones, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Waste and Recycling, said: 

“One of this Council’s priority objectives is to manage our local environment well; this document is key to addressing that and provides clarification, by combining all of our existing enforcement powers into one single policy. Enforcement officers from the Council are already patrolling the county’s towns and villages and culprits caught are issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £75. Operation Clean-Up is just one of our recent success- which has resulted in 26 Fixed Penalty Notices being issued in the last few days alone. We are keen to keep sending out the message that dog fouling, littering, fly tipping and graffiti is anti-social and will not be tolerated in Flintshire.”

In the last 6 years Flintshire County Council have dealt with over 5000 incidents of fly tipping, at a cost of £300,000 yet only 3 people have been prosecuted for fly tipping related offences.

g1

Previous enforcement performance to date has been poor, a new policy or document is unlikely to tackle the root cause of environmental issues in areas such as Shotton, a more innovative approach is required to the problems that appear to be getting worse rather than better.

 

 

 



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