‘Cowboy’ fly-tippers face tougher penalties

Fines for littering and handing over waste to “cowboy” fly-tippers in Bristol are going up to the maximum allowed by law.

City council leaders approved an increase in fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for dropping rubbish from £100 to £150, with the early payment rising from £65 to £75.

They also agreed to double fines from £200 to £400 for breaches of the “household duty of care”, which requires residents to take reasonable steps to ensure waste produced at home is supplied only to someone authorised to dispose of it.

Cabinet member for climate, ecology, waste and energy Cllr Kye Dudd told a council meeting: “Part of this is sending a clear message about expected behaviour, cleaning the city and taking a robust approach to enforcement.

“Although the cleanliness of the city has improved in many parts, more work still needs to be done, particularly in relation to behaviour change.”

He said the local authority had issued more than 30,000 FPNs since 2017 for environmental offences such as littering, fly-tipping or dog fouling, with 2,500 people taken to court for non-payment.

Cllr Dudd (Labour, Southmead) said the fines had not been reviewed for four years.

He said: “The household duty of care requirement reduces the chances of waste ending up in the hands of cowboy companies who take £20 off you and then dump it.”

A report to the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, June 6, said: “The cost of environmental crime to the city is high.

“In 2021/22 there were 10,196 reports of fly-tipping to Bristol Waste, each fly-tip therefore costing approximately £50 to remove and enforce, so increasing the penalty rates for certain offences sends a clear message.”

Answering a question from Cllr Martin Fodor (Green, Redland), Cllr Dudd said the council had spent the £220,000 surplus from fines since 2017 on measures to keep streets clean, including removing fly-posting, anti-littering campaigns, equipment to litter-picking groups, clearing graffiti and additional enforcement.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: “I’m pleased about the fines increasing.

“I walked across College Green with my boy the other day and just the number of piles of picnic bottles, crisp packets from people who have just got up, walked away and left, is beyond belief.

“You’ve enjoyed a public space, that public space is enjoyable because when you got there it looked like a lovely piece of grass with people picnicking, and you leave it a place that people would not want to hang around because it feels filthy, dirty and violated.

“So since the beginning we have talked about how we can have an approach where we need to go out and do better at cleaning up Bristol as a city, but that cannot be done without the city.

“We could spend tens of millions clearing up waste after people but we need a dual approach – we need to collect it better, we need to put the services in place, but we need people to treat Bristol differently, and if we do that then we will get closer to having the quality of city that many of us would want to live in in terms of its cleanliness.”

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service