It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Howarth. Fly-tipping is a problem that affects communities the length and breadth of the country, including in the area I represent. That is why I welcome today’s debate and congratulate Neil Parish on securing it.
Levels of fly-tipping are spiralling across Coventry. The problem is particularly acute in the Foleshill and Stoke areas of my constituency. Those areas are blighted by domestic and commercial fly-tippers targeting streets, shared communal areas and open green spaces, often leaving them strewn with all types of waste. Alleyways are blocked with old mattresses, shopping trollies and even bathtubs. Streets are scattered with litter and bags of rubbish, and our parks are blighted by abandoned sofas and old electrical goods. I have witnessed the impact of fly-tipping on my local communities in Coventry. It is a scar on the local environment, and causes misery to law-abiding residents, affecting how they feel about the place they call home. Moreover, fly-tipping is a financial burden on our local authority that diverts money away from crucial services such as adult social care.
Coventry City Council takes the problem of fly-tipping seriously and is determined to tackle it head-on. It works hard to deter such criminal acts, to investigate and clean up incidents of fly-tipping when they occur, and to penalise those who engage in it. Last year the council prosecuted 35 people for fly-tipping, and it is pursuing 15 cases through the judicial system this year. None the less, the council recognises that more needs to be done to tackle this growing problem, which is why it has earmarked an additional £100,000 this year to create a new mobile team to combat fly-tipping. The additional resource will be used to target areas of the city where there have been high rates of fly-tipping and extra street-cleansing is necessary.
That shows that Coventry City Council is committed to fulfilling its responsibility for tackling fly-tipping at all levels. However, its ability to deal with the growing problem has been severely hampered in recent years by cuts to local government funding. By 2020, the council will have just half the money it had to run services in 2010. Needless to say, that places significant pressure on the provision of frontline services and has forced the council to make tough choices, one of which is to reduce the frequency of household bin collections in order to save more than £1 million a year. The council recognises that more needs to be done to tackle this growing problem, which is why it has earmarked the £100,000 for this year.
Coventry City Council is a very well-run authority and has been for many years. One of the things we used to do many years ago was provide a bulk lift; every single resident would clear out their attics, gardens and sheds and the council provided the money and the transport to take away the goods. We could not possibly think of doing that anymore. More anti-fly-tipping legislation, or campaigns to prevent fly-tipping or to provide free removal of white goods, are all admirable things, but it does not matter what we do; we need the money to do it. All of those things cost money and that has to come out of the rates. I beg the Minister to look once again at funding for local authorities so that they can carry out these important services for their residents.