I’m pleased that Camden has adopted my proposal, as made in the September meeting of Camden Council, to introduce fixed-penalty notices for fly-tipping.
This power was introduced by the Government in May under the sexily named Unauthorised Deposit of Waste (Fixed Penalties) Regulations 2016. The power has been used by the majority of London boroughs – in fact, Brent imposed their first on-the-spot fine three days after the regulations came into effect! Camden has since been playing catch-up.
The legislation allows fines of up to £400 to be imposed. Almost all boroughs that have used the power – including Westminster, Barnet, Haringey, and Islington – have all gone for £400.
Camden Labour have decided for a lower penalty of just £200. I asked the Cabinet member on Monday for a commitment to ensure that the power was used in full and that the fine would be “£400 and not a penny less”.
Sadly, he said that the administration believed that a lower fine would be better. I respect the Cabinet member very much – he has shown himself to be independent-minded over several years, and adopting a Conservative councillor’s policy at all demonstrates that – but on this, he is wrong.
There were 8,308 reported fly-tipping incidents in Camden last year – the actual number is obviously higher than the reported number – and Camden imposed 94 fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping last year (actually under the £80 littering regulations).
That gives a 1.13% chance of having to pay a fine if you fly-tip. If the probability of being caught fly-tipping are 1.13%, fly-tippers expect to pay just £4.53, even if the maximum £400 fine were imposed. This is not a draconian amount and not an unduly high deterrent. Furthermore, a lower fine means less money raised that can be put into catching fly-tippers: creating a vicious circle.
I applaud Camden for adopting my proposal. Fly-tipping is a menace to our borough and is unacceptably widespread. However, I will not rest until the full powers are utilised and the fine is raised to £400.
For more about my campaign to restore weekly bin collections, click here.