Litterbugs and fly-tippers have officially been warned: “Don’t Mess with Croydon”. With over 18,000 fly-tips reported in Croydon last year, the council is cracking down on citizens who do not dispose of their waste properly.
Croydon’s streets have increasingly been covered with trash and household waste over the past five years. Last May a 45-year-old man was jailed for six months after dumping 42 tonnes of waste at Martin Crescent.
While this is one of the most extreme cases of littering, Croydon currently ranks 7th in the UK for worst areas for fly-tipping.
Data released by the London Datastore shows that the council has done little to combat the problem until recently. Around 460 out of over 15,000 fly-tips were responded to in 2013 and only five people were prosecuted.
With these figures it’s no surprise that the council launched its hard-hitting Don’t Mess with Croydon, Take Pride campaign which aims to crack down on fly-tipping and encourage the public to dispose of waste correctly.Since the initiative began, 79 people have been prosecuted for illegally dumping rubbish, littering, or spitting. In January alone, 15 people were prosecuted and collectively fined more than £4,600.
Councillor Stuart Collins, the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon, launched the campaign in 2014 and said “it makes a huge difference to people’s well being to live in a clean healthy environment.”
Don’t Mess with Croydon has doubled the number of enforcement officers since 2014, with 40 officers now patrolling Croydon’s streets or watching from surveillance vans set up by the council.
The campaign emphasises a “joint responsibility” between residents and the council to keep the community clean. Collins said: “We waste millions collecting fly tips and litter that we could save if people acted responsibly and disposed of waste correctly.” The council announced an extra £100,000 towards clean-up initiatives in December.
Don’t Mess with Croydon has gone to great lengths to prevent fly-tipping and penalise offenders. Eight vehicles used for illegally dumping waste have been seized and crushed, some of which have been displayed throughout Croydon as a warning to potential fly-tippers.
— Andrew Rendle (@AndrewRendle) May 22, 2015
Many have taken to Twitter to applaud the council’s strong stance on fly-tipping, however some are concerned their efforts to prosecute offenders go too far.
Among those who feel the consequences are too harsh is a woman who was fined £452 for cigarette littering. She said that some of these fines are “ridiculous” and “the council must have bigger offences to worry about.” She wishes to remain anonymous.
A man from Thornton Heath was also fined £452 this past October for spitting on Boswell Road.
Collins said the man failed to pay his initial spitting fine and was penalized by the court for non-payment. He also said cases like this “show you should pay the fine or face the consequences.”
Not only has the council implemented harsher fines, they’ve also published the Hall of Shame which publically lists the names of convicted litterbugs and fly-tippers, as well as their offences and fines.
The campaign has been commended for recruiting 270 street champions who have organized 57 community clean up operations so far. Don’t Mess with Croydon is currently nominated for a Local Government award.
Fly-tips can now be reported through the My Croydon app and email address. This has lead to an incredible spike in clean up response times with 75% of fly-tips cleaned up within two days. Only 3% had been cleared within two days prior to the initiative.
Despite many admirable efforts to keep Croydon’s streets clean, Collins recognises there is a long way to go and assures that Don’t Mess with Croydon “will continue for as long as it takes.”
You can report fly-tipping by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the My Croydon app. Alternatively, call the fly-tipping hotline on 0208 604 7000.