In many years of campaigning in Birkenhead and Tranmere its fair to say that no issue has annoyed residents more than fly-tipping. In particular, the failure to prosecute offenders has been a source of immense frustration.
Its fair to say the Green Party has successfully highlighted this and forced it up the political agenda. Our campaigning and electoral success have been major factors in forcing the council to devote more resources to tackling this issue.
Yesterday I attended Birkenhead Magistrates Court to listen in on the first cases arising out of the alleyway dumping programme. These all involved cases where evidence has been collected and fixed penalty notices of £75 issued. The failure to pay these penalties has led in turn to court action.
In total, five cases were up before the court, two in Birkenhead and one each in Tranmere, New Ferry and Wallasey.
Four of the five accused did not appear in court and were fined £225 each with an additional £175 in costs and a £22 victim surcharge which is used to fund victim services. That's a total fine of £422.
In the remaining case, the accused pleaded guilty by post and was fined £150 plus £175 in costs and a £22 victim surcharge.
These sums will now be pursued through the court system.
I was especially pleased that the court acknowledged my presence as an indication of the impact that fly-tipping has on the community. I was the only councillor to attend.
Enforcement can never be the full answer to fly-tipping but I am pleased that years of campaigning has led to the first significant efforts to prosecute what is extremely anti-social behaviour.
I very much hope that this will encourage individuals to think twice and manage their waste appropriately. That is surely a better option than risking a hefty fine and a criminal record.
The next batch of cases are due in a few weeks time and I anticipate more in the future.
So well done to everyone who has worked on bringing these cases to a successful conclusion.
Hopefully, this will feed through to a significant reduction in cases of fly-tipping and we can all enjoy a cleaner environment.