A major clampdown on fly-tippers has today been pledged by town hall bosses after a huge surge in cases across the Fylde coast.
After years of decline, the latest figures show a shocking 50 per cent rise in reported incidents across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre in 2013.
But despite the increase, only a fraction of those cases have led to anyone being prosecuted.
In Blackpool alone, there were 4,656 reported incidents in the 12 months up to March – a 17 per cent rise compared to the year before.
John Blackledge, director of community and environmental services at the council, said: “We prosecute anybody caught fly tipping and will continue to do all we can to bring the people responsible to justice.”
However, council records show just 157 people were fined last year for fly-tipping in the borough.
The council sent out 85 warning letters, while 661 statutory notices were sent to landowners ordering them to clean up the mess.
Yet despite the huge rise in figures, which town hall bosses say is partly blamed on a change in the way cases are recorded, council bosses say the amount of waste being dumped is actually falling.
Blackpool Council also claims its efforts to boost recycling in the resort are helping to stop people dumping waste illegally.
Mr Blackledge added: “Over the last five years, fly-tipping incidents in Blackpool have reduced by almost 25 per cent.
“This year, while there have been more reported incidents, nationally as well as locally, the amount of waste that is fly-tipped has actually fallen by almost 15 tonnes.
“We believe the increase in reported incidents comes as a result of a number of factors but, primarily, because we’ve made it a lot easier for residents to contact us to report fly tips.
“People now can report online in a few clicks which is much simpler.
“We take fly tipping very seriously and would remind people that it is a criminal offence.
“We look in to every incident, from one bin bag being left on a street to some of the more high profile ones.
“We also have a comprehensive waste strategy to help reduce fly tipping including the introduction of Rover, our mobile recycling unit, which goes from area to area collecting people’s household waste and our Bulky Matters service which collects large items.”
But those whose streets are blighted by the crime say it is still a major problem.
Gail Swarbrick, of Handsworth Road, South Shore, said the alley by her house (pictured) is constantly full of rubbish, despite being regularly cleared by the council.
She said: “People just literally chuck rubbish over the wall - there’s a matress there at the moment.
“We have seen vans come and dump rubbish but a lot of it is people who live here.
“It will get cleaned up and then it will get worse again. You can catch them but nothing is being done about it. It’s just disgusting - people have no respect.”
In Wyre, a 500 per cent increase in fly-tipping has been blamed on changes to the way waste is collected as well a strong scrap metal market that saw a massive fall in cases logged in 2012.
A council spokesman said: “Figures for 2012/13, which were very low, are an anomaly due to a number of factors and don’t reflect the true number of incidents.
“Discounting 2012/13, fly-tipping figures have been decreasing in Wyre each year and 2013/14 follows the same pattern.
“We continue to encourage residents to report fly tipping, which they can do quickly and easily online, so our local area teams can respond quickly. We rely on information from members of the public to tackle fly-tipping and will look to prosecute anyone found to be responsible.
“One of the biggest contributors to the problem is rogue traders who offer to take people’s waste away cheaply and then dump it. Customers need to check that they are using a licensed waste remover because if any of their waste is found they would be held liable.”
Of the 1,906 cases reported last year in Wyre, in investigation was launched on 864 occasions. However, just one person was fined as a result.
Warning letters were sent out in 47 cases, 93 statutory notices were sent out and 152 duty of care inspections were made. Meanwhile, fly-tipping incidents in Fylde – which totalled 448 in 2013/14 – are at a five year high.
A council spokesman said: “We haven’t yet got figures for the current year but we expect them to show a further increase. However, the volume of waste has actually decreased because each fly-tipping incident is getting smaller. Where we used to get a whole lorry load in a lay-by, now we just get one or two black bags.”
The council said since it started putting cameras in rural hotspots to deter fly-tippers, incidents have moved to urban areas because offenders have “wised up”.
It said all cases are investigated and staff are being trained to sift through the waste for clues. Four £300 fines have been handed out to offenders in the last year and two cases are set to go before the courts in the near future.