Don’t trust white van men offering to get rid off your rubbish on the cheap.
That’s the message from Paula Parker, an investigator from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Environmental Enforcement Team.
In just one year on the job, Paula has helped to secure five successful prosecutions against perpetrators, who failed to dispose of their waste legally.
“These aren’t people with criminal backgrounds,” said Paula. “What usually happens is a white van man will offer to take someone’s household waste away for a cheap rate, then they’ll dump it somewhere in the countryside - like Woldgate.”
Paula added that is rarely the individual who carries out the fly-tipping that is caught, but the unsuspecting customer who pays them for the service.
“They are hard to track down and we have no idea how many of people offering these services there are. We want to educate people that they need to ensure that someone is a registered waste carrier before giving them their waste, or they could be committing an offence - but it happens all the time.
“It only costs £29 to have the council collect up to five bulky items you want rid of.”
In the year 2014 to 2015 the authority spent £340,000 disposing of fly-tipped waste, and received 2,350 reports for that year.
Paula, who has a background investigating benefit fraud, regularly patrols Bridlington’s back-alleys, side roads and other fly-tipping ‘hot-spots,’ to record dumped waste and arrange for its removal.
One area she checks frequently is an alleyway behind Haslemere Avenue, where a problem resident allegedly dumps their household rubbish on a regular basis.
During her latest visit, Paula was confronted by an irate resident, complaining about yet another haul of bin bags dumped behind his house.
The man, who we have not named, said: “It’s terrible. I’m going to try and sell this house next year and move into a bungalow, but there is no way anyone will want to buy it with all this rubbish behind it.
“I know who’s left it there, and I’ve confronted them about it. It’s not the first time they’ve done it.”
As Paula sifted through the rubbish, she pulled out a letter with the alleged tipper’s name and address, but she will need more to nail the individual.
“I now have to prove that that person actually left the waste, but it’s not as easy as you would think. I will write to any responsible adult in charge at the property, and invite them in for a formal interview.”
A key to successful enforcement also relies on close links with the council’s legal services, who ultimately present cases in court which are based on the investigations, interview details and case file preparation undertaken by enforcement officers like Paula.
But Paula’s work is not confined to solely urban areas, but also swathes of East Yorkshire countryside, regularly targeted by fly-tippers.
“I always come to Woldgate if I’m in Bridlington. There’s almost always another report of fly-tipping.”
Her latest find was several large builders sacks filled with bricks, building materials and worryingly, asbestos tiles. Its removal was arranged to be carried out by specialists.
Paula added: “I think when people think of fly-tipping they imagine it always taking place in the countryside, because it spoils lovely views.
“But it’s just as frustrating for people living in towns who have these problems on their doorstep.”
Paula’s and the Environmental Enforcement Team’s goal is ultimately to educate and prevent, but they will take a firm stance reacting to and punishing perpetrators.
She added: “All reports of environmental crime made to the Council are investigated. Pragmatic balanced routes of education, informal and formal warnings, or court action are pursued as appropriate according to frequency and severity factors and the availability of sufficient evidence.
“Wherever the extent of environmental crime being experienced it is of great importance to the local residents.”
To report fly-stipping: 01482 396301
To arrange buly waste pick-up (£29): 01482 393939
Or visit www.eastriding.gov.uk for information