Stiffer penalties are needed to tackle the “scourge” of fly-tipping in Glasgow, a senior councillor has said, as he urged the Scottish Government to lift the maximum fine.
Councillor Ruairi Kelly, SNP, wants sanctions to be significantly increased to deter repeat offenders, as he is concerned some firms absorb fixed penalty notices as a business cost.
In a letter to cabinet secretary for justice Angela Constance, Cllr Kelly said: “Fines and sentencing for fly-tipping need to be an adequate deterrent to what has become an endemic problem across much of the city of Glasgow along with the rest of the country. But right now they’re not.”
The council’s convener for neighbourhood services and assets believes current fines limit the impact of enforcement, particularly on criminal gangs involved in illegal dumping of waste.
Councils can hand out fixed penalties of £80 for littering and £200 for fly-tipping while, if a case goes to court, someone convicted of fly-tipping can face a fine of up to £40,000 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment.
Councillor Kelly has called for a review of fly-tipping penalties which councils and courts are able to impose, and wants the government to issue courts with guidance to impose fines towards the higher end of the scale.
“I’m asking the Scottish Government to look again at the levels of fines issued for fly-tipping,” he said. “They haven’t been revisited since 2014 and a significant increase in both council fines and court sanctions should be considered.
“I know our hard-working staff who are on the frontline dealing with what is criminal behaviour want to see tougher action and enforcement on this matter. As do citizens I speak with who are often impacted directly by this disgusting behaviour. But we need tougher sanctions to properly tackle this scourge.
“If we are to address both the criminal element of this problem and affect behavioural change then we must be able to demonstrate consequences for those actions.”
In his letter to the cabinet secretary, Cllr Kelly said the sentencing in a recent fly-tipping court case “makes a mockery” of the effort put in by council staff and Police Scotland to secure a conviction.
Stuart Allison, the director of a ‘Man with a Van’ business, was fined £750 and ordered to pay £1,900 in compensation for the clean-up, after a ‘large-scale’ fly-tipping operation was exposed.
His employee, Steven Hutton, was fined £750. They had been caught dumping household waste on Dalsetter Crescent in Drumchapel.
Councillor Kelly wrote: “You may be aware of the recent case where Mr Stuart Allison was convicted of dumping household waste across the city. One of Mr Allison’s former workers admitted that he had, ‘dumped waste in nearly every street with a dead end in Glasgow’.
“Mr Allison and Mr Hutton were both fined £750 and Mr Allison had to pay £1900 for the clean-up. In my opinion this does not in any way act as a deterrent for those who would carry out illegal dumping and could easily be factored in as a ‘cost of doing business’.
“It also makes a mockery of the time and effort put in by both Glasgow City Council staff and Police Scotland to investigate this and gather enough evidence to secure a conviction, not to mention being a slap in the face to communities who must live with the consequences of this criminal behaviour.”
The Scottish Government recently consulted with councils on a new national litter and fly-tipping strategy. Over 80% of the 978 respondents believed current sanctions are “too small”.