Council’s warning on cowboy collectors

Coun Ian Swithenbank.
Coun Ian Swithenbank.
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Don’t trust a ‘white van man’ offering to get rid of your rubbish on the cheap – that’s the message from Northumberland County Council after a string of fly-tipping incidents from unscrupulous waste collectors.

Residents are being warned they could end up in court if they fall for a growing criminal scam in which they pay, in good faith, to have their bulky waste taken away by people posing as legitimate collectors, but who then go on to fly-tip to avoid costs.

Householders could be fined up to £5,000 and left with a criminal record if they use what the Government has dubbed waste cowboys, who are increasingly advertising on social media.

Residents should be wary of firms without a landline or business address or anyone coming to their door.

In the last financial year, Northumberland County Council spent £130,640 disposing of fly-tipped waste and received 2,060 fly-tipping reports.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services, said: “There is a real community effort involved in keeping our towns and villages clean and so, the public are a lot more vigilant and willing to come forward to us with information if they see a fly-tipping incident. This has been a great help to us in tracking down the offenders.

“Fly tipping is a serious environmental crime and we will investigate and pursue every fly-tipping incident. We will take a very firm stance against the perpetrators and will prosecute offenders to make sure they pay for their crimes and not us.”

Strict environmental protection laws prohibit the transport of waste by unregistered and unlicensed contractors to ensure that it is disposed of properly.

Residents employing a waste removal firm should always ask to see the relevant waste transfer notes and they should also ask to see a waste carrier’s licence. Companies that offer to transport and remove waste on behalf of others must have a carrier’s license issued by the Environment Agency.

Northumberland County Council also offers a bulky waste collection service for a fee – £13 for one bulky item, reduced to £6.50 for concessions. If householders choose a licensed private contractor instead, they must make sure they get a proper receipt.