Published: 10:42, 26 April 2021
| Updated: 10:48, 26 April 2021
People living in Dartford have been encouraged to hire skips to dispose of their rubbish safely amid concerns over a high number of fly-tipping incidents.
Dartford council is seeking to lobby Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government for more powers to fine people caught fly-tipping, beyond the set limit of £250. Currently, the fees increase to £400 if not paid within 10 days.
The cost is almost equivalent to hiring a six-yard skip in Kent, around £241 in Tunbridge Wells last year and £265 in London, according to national surveys.
Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con), Dartford council's leader, told his cabinet: "This is where I think we should use our contacts with government to make clear that actually there is a big appetite for larger fines.
"If the cost of getting caught is the equivalent of paying the cost honestly, then there is a real problem to those of a low moral standard."
Local authorities are responsible for clearing and investigating hundreds of fly-tipping reports each year from residents, the police and other councillors.
Environmental officers working for Kingdom, which supports local authorities, dealt with 611 fly-tipping cases in Dartford from April 2018 to March 2021.
This includes industrial and commercial rubbish being illegally dumped along the Bexley and Dartford border near Birchwood Road, the cabinet was told.
Dartford council's Labour group leader Cllr Sacha Gosine (Lab) says more awareness should be raised about the harmful effects of fly-tipping on the local environment.
For instance, some waste contains poisonous hazards that endanger wildlife and humans. It also spoils the enjoyment of the countryside.
Going forward, Cllr Gosine said: “It is better to educate people so they do not repeat the offence, rather than keep fining them.”
However, calls were made for greater enforcement measures, including more police patrols, at Dartford council's cabinet meeting on YouTube.
Cllr Andy Lloyd (Con), who is Dartford council's cabinet member for major capital projects, said: "I have never come across a member of any party or resident which has complained we are too tough on fly-tippers.
"Having recently been purchasing some skips for my own personal use, our fine of £250 paid within 10 days is almost equivalent to getting a skip."