Oh wheelie? Westminster Council left red faced after tweeting wrong image in flytipping crackdown

 (Westminster City Council)
(Westminster City Council)

Westminster Council bosses were forced to clear up a mess of their own making on Friday after claims about its crackdown on fly tipping backfired.

The Labour-run council used its official Twitter account on Thursday to post before and after pictures of a street corner in Pimlico where a heap of rubbish - including an abandoned dressing table - had been unlawfully dumped.

The mess had been reported earlier in the day by Nickie Aiken, the Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, and a former leader of the council.

Hailing its rapid clean up operation, the council tweeted: “You report rubbish on Westminster streets, and we respond quickly. This mess was left on the corner of Sussex and Cumberland Street, Pimlico and flagged with us today.

“Our team has cleared it up.”

However Ms Aiken spotted that the council’s picture of the cleared street and empty bin was a different location.

She tweeted: “That’s great...but the after photo isn’t the same bin I reported. The one on the left is the recylcing bin I reported. The one on the right is a completely different non recycling big black bin on the opposite side of the road!”

By Friday morning, the council had posted a new picture, showing the correct bin, and admitted: “Whoops - looks like we sent a pic of the wrong bin!

“To confirm, both bins at the junction of Sussex and Cumberland Street were cleared earlier today.”

Responding to the mix-up, Ms Aiken said: “I’m all for local authorities using social media to communicate but I think everyone in Westminster would prefer the Labour run council concentrated on getting the basics rights and tackle the increase in fly tipping we’ve seen over the past few months.”

Illegal fly tipping costs Government up to £392 million a year and surged during the Covid pandemic with the number of fly tipping incidents being handled by local councils increasing by 16 per cent between 2019/20 and 2020/21.

In a bid to clamp down on the problem, the Government announced earlier this year that households will no longer have to pay to get rid of DIY waste and said it would award grants to local authorities to trial new projects to tackle the scourge.

A study of councils published in August revealed that Westminster took the top spot in the ountry for issuing fines to businesses for fly tipping. The research showed that the authority raked in nearly £1m in fines between 2019 and 2022 from 2,466 commercial fly tipping penalties.