HOW much evidence do the authorities need to prosecute someone for flytipping?
That’s the question on the lips of angry Barston residents who say they’ve even caught someone red handed – without any action being taken by the police, who on fly tipping, defer to the local authority.
The problem is so great they’ve even installed their own automatic number plate recognition cameras (ANPR) complete with automatic alerts whenever a suspicious vehicle is spotted prowling through the village.
“Last Friday a number plate logged on our blacklist pinged the system and it was stuck down Hobb Lane, load half in, half out,” said Councillor Jeremy Emmett, the chair of Barston Parish Council.
“The police came down and we thought to ourselves, great, we’ve nabbed them, but then once the vehicle was freed the officers just walked away. We couldn’t believe it.”
He cited another case, which is currently bogged down in the legal system.
“Back in January last year, we had evidence on ANPR and video and the case appears to be going nowhere,” said Coun Emmett.
“Flytipping is a major problem in this village but no one is taking it seriously.
“We have spent a lot of money on this system, we have fought back but we are being let down by the authorities.
“There’s the police, the environment agency and Solihull Council but there’s no clear rules for who is responsible for what is a criminal offence.
“They seem to think it’s a minor crime, but for us it’s a major issue.”
Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti said: “I have been appalled by the flytipping in Barston and I have been speaking with residents, Barston a Parish Council, SMBC and Solihull Police.
“I hope it is clear to those who are doing this flytipping that their lack of consideration for local people and our environment is unacceptable and they will be met with the full force of the law.”
Councillor Alison Rolf, Cabinet Member for Stronger & Safer Communities, said: “If we have any evidence relating to the identity of a fly tipper we carry out an investigation and take action. Last year we issued six fixed penalties and seized two vehicles.
“We currently have a number of other investigations in train which we hope to bring to trial.
“Our problem with fly tipping is always evidence. In many cases fly tipping is not witnessed and even when it is people are sometimes reluctant to give us a statement.
“Or the fly tip itself does not provide any form of identifiable documents/data to trace back to those who may have deposited it or whose waste it was.
“Without this information it is difficult to pursue.
“So if you see a fly tipping incident, please report the matter to the Council on 0121 704 8000 or alternatively use the online reporting form available on the Council website at www.solihull.gov.uk ” .