Fly-tipping: The relentless scourge blighting Middlesbrough communities


This week, Middlesbrough Council implored residents to reclaim their streets and help in the fight against illegal fly-tippers.

The rallying cry followed the discovery of eight tonnes of household waste dumped in a back alley, just days after council teams carried out a deep clean of the area. The incident, described as "soul destroying", prompted renewed calls for residents to report those blighting their neighbourhoods.

Dumping rubbish attracts vermin and poses significant detrimental environmental impacts with local councils left picking up the tab. In the past year, Middlesbrough Council received almost 5,500 reports of waste and fly-tipping, with the issue particularly acute across the Newport, North Ormesby and Central wards.

A massive 25 tonnes of fly-tipped rubbish were cleared from Middlesbrough's back alleys in just two days in April. In November last year, a resident in North Ormesby told the Local Democracy Reporting Service how the back alley behind her home was overrun with rats and smells so bad that locals can't hang even their washing out.

Barely a week goes by without a report of fly-tipping in the town - a problem mirrored across many local authorities around the country. According to Defra, North East councils suffered a total of 63,839 fly tipping incidents in 2023.

What is being done to tackle the problem?

Fly-tippers could now be fined up to £1,000 for dumping rubbish in Middlesbrough after the council’s executive voted on a new fees and charges structure. It saw fly-tipping fines increased by 150 per cent from a previous £400 maximum, while those littering could now face £500 fines – an increase from £80.

The alley behind Kensington Road, in Middlesbrough, was blighted by fly-tipping
The alley behind Kensington Road, in Middlesbrough, was blighted by fly-tipping -Credit:Middlesbrough Council

Since the implementation, the council team has issued 46 high level fixed penalty notices which range from £300 for littering offences to £800 for fly-tipping. Since the start of the year 25 individuals have been hit with fines of up to £800 for fly-tipping, with three prosecutions resulting in convictions at court.

The council led the the case against a man who was slapped with a suspended prison sentence for dumping a staggering 61 tonnes of rubbish in Brambles Farm. The team has also seized 116 abandoned/illegal vehicles in the last six months and have disposed of 68 of those, while one vehicle used for fly-tipping has been crushed.

Cllr Janet Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Community Safety said incidents of fly-tipping are "shocking and soul-destroying" but insisted they can't face the problem alone. "We need people to take responsibility for their own neighbourhoods and ensure the culprits are held to account," she said. "By working together we can reclaim our streets, back alleys and public spaces for the law-abiding folk who take genuine pride in their local area.”

Longlands and Beechwood ward councillor Joan McTigue regularly reports incidents of fly-tipping and said she believes the council is relying too heavily on residents and councillors. "I have had 21 years of experience on this and they must now know where the hotspots are," she said. "

"They should have working cameras and set up a computer system to see where the hotspots are and target their patrols at those places."

A van with a plan

A recent scheme saw a van linked to one of the worst cases of fly-tipping in Middlesbrough rebranded and put back on the road to help deter others. In 2021, more than 60 tonnes of household and building waste dumped near a children’s nursery on the town’s Turford Avenue.

The environmental hazard – which included potentially lethal asbestos, refrigerators and 30 mattresses – cost more than £14,000 to clear up. Darren Mills charged people £120 to £150 as "Daz Van Man Mills" to take their waste then tipped it on to a site opposite the nursery, sometimes as often as twice a day,

Mills, of Grangetown, was subsequently given a nine-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work. His van was seized and has now been given complete makeover, with highly visible warnings to would-be offenders that ‘Fly-tipping is a crime!’ and ‘We Are Watching’.

A message on the bonnet reads: “This van was seized after being used to fly-tip in Middlesbrough. It’s now used to clean up our town.”

The seized van which was rebranded to help in the fight against fly-tipping across Middlesbrough
Fly-tipping in a back alley behind Jubilee Street in North Ormesby

Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke said: “Instead of crushing this van as we would have in years gone by we have decided to re-use it which will act as a powerful deterrent to anyone tempted to fly-tip, and as a reassurance to law-abiding residents that we will act on the information they give us and put the culprits before the courts.”

How can residents help in the fight?

Dumped rubbish in North Ormesby and (inset) a dead rat
The seized van which was rebranded to help in the fight against fly-tipping across Middlesbrough -Credit:Middlesbrough Council

Anyone with information on fly-tipping can send details to evidence@middlesbrough.gov.uk or call the Contact Centre on 01642 726001. Fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and many other offences can also be reported online at www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/report

The local authority offers a bulky waste collection service. For more information and to request a collection, visit www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/recycling-and-rubbish/bulky-item-collection or call 01642 726001.

Residents can also book online to dispose of large items at the Household Waste and Recycling Centre at Haverton Hill. There is no charge for residents but fees apply for businesses.

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