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Council look at new fly tipping enforcement powers – ‘health and safety’ issues with rooms impeded enforcement interviews

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Saturday, Apr 13th, 2019.

Wrexham Council will be looking to use new powers to clamp down on fly tippers via fixed penalty notices, however have had a problem with interview rooms that impeded related interviews from taking place.

Earlier this week we reported that despite strong public warnings of prosecutions over fly tipping Wrexham Council failed to bring any prosecutions for it in the past year.

Prosecutions are one method of clamping down on those who fly tip, apparently at a great cost to Wrexham with the total cost to clear both litter and fly tipping previously pegged at over a million pounds a year.

Another new method is the use of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN’s) with new powers voted through in the Senedd in earlier this year, that set the fixed penalty at £300 with an early payment clause of £150 if the council offer it. Councils can retain the receipts to help contribute towards the costs of dealing with waste crime.

We asked if any new powers had been used in Wrexham, and also comment on how the tough rhetoric in various meetings and statements matched the lack of actual action against those who fly tip.

Cllr David A Bithell Lead Member Environment and Transport responded telling us, “The new powers have only just come into force in February 2019 and officers are currently looking at this.

“In respect of fly tipping, if we have the evidence we will take the necessary action including issuing fixed penalty notices within the resources available to us.”

After running our initial article last week one council insider got in touch to explain how interviews are part of the enforcement process, to gain evidence and take statements from people. We were told that process had serious issues, so we enquired why interviewing either stopped or was reduced.

Cllr Bithell told us, “We are currently reviewing our rooms for interviews, but do have other suitable facilities available. The Council are looking at office accommodation in all departments following implementation of the new structure.”

We re-queried on the latter point, with new structures being presented as a positive move for Wrexham Council rather than impacting on enforcement or even other service areas.

Cllr Mark Pritchard, Leader of the Council, told us, “The new structure has not had any impact on the provision of interview rooms. The Council had previously been undertaking interviews in relation to enforcement but had identified a health and safety issue with the facilities used to carry out interviews. This issue has now been resolved and the Council will continue to undertake interviews and enforcement action as appropriate.”

We are told the ‘health and safety’ issues revolved around concerns over the safety of staff members in interview rooms, for example if a chair was not secured and could be used as a potential threat against staff by potentially irate people.

We subsequently been told the safety of council staff is of ‘paramount importance’ and such issues have been sorted out.

Top picture: Fly tipped waste in Wrexham.

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