Council to scrap bulky waste charges by end of month

Pledge comes as councillors quiz cabinet member on efforts to reduce fly-tipping, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Some of Enfield Council's street-cleaning team pictured collecting waste in Angel Edmonton
Some of Enfield Council’s street-cleaning team pictured collecting waste in Angel Edmonton (credit Enfield Council)

Charges for bulky waste collections are due to be scrapped this month as part of a crackdown on fly-tipping by Enfield Council.

Residents previously had to pay between £42 and £65.20 to have large items such as beds, tables and chairs picked up from the kerbside – but the council is now planning to drop these charges later in September.

Like many other boroughs, Enfield saw a spike in illegal dumping during the Covid-19 lockdown, and bulky waste accounts for more than two-thirds of the borough’s fly-tipping incidents.

The council will now offer residents an unlimited number of free bulky waste collections, although it says this will be monitored to prevent abuse. There will still be charges for ‘white goods’ such as fridges and freezers.

Free bulky waste collections are part of a string of measures the council is putting in place to cut down on fly-tipping. Council housing estates will get an extra weekly refuse collection and have fly-tipping cleared more regularly, while larger vehicles have been rolled out to collect more kerbside waste from flats above shops. 

The council has pledged to carry out “robust” enforcement action, issuing fixed penalty notices of up to £400 and taking repeat offenders to court.

The fly-tipping crackdown was discussed at a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday, 8th September, where most councillors welcomed the changes, admitting that fly-tipping was one of the main problems they dealt with on a regular basis.

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But Conservative committee member James Hockney said the administration had been warned not to scrap weekly bin collections and charge for bulky waste pickups because it would lead to a “surge in fly-tipping”. He claimed there had been a “loss of control of the street scene”.

The council switched from weekly to fortnightly bin collections in March 2020, despite strong opposition from residents consulted on the move. Charges for bulky waste collections have been in place for several years.

Rick Jewell, cabinet member for environment,  said blaming fortnightly collections for fly-tipping was a “nonsense argument”, pointing out that bulky items such as mattresses would never have been thrown in bins. 

He added that most other London boroughs had switched to fortnightly bin rounds because of government funding cuts, and some were considering a move to three and four-weekly collections, but that this was not on the table in Enfield.

Cllr Hockney asked why fly-tipping enforcement actions had dropped from 9,264 in 2017/18 to 4,892 in 2021. Sue McDaid, head of regulatory services, blamed a reduction in staff and said there had been further investment since 2018.

In response to a question from Community First councillor Derek Levy, director of environment Doug Wilkinson revealed some money from the housing revenue account – a ringfenced pot of cash spent on council homes – would be used to fund the extra collections on council estates.

Lee David-Sanders, a Conservative committee member, asked what target the council had set to gauge the success of its fly-tipping crackdown. Cllr Jewell and Doug said a reduction in incidents reported by residents, reduced pressure on Barrowell Green Recycling Centre, and feedback from social media would be among the measures used to gauge the success of the strategy.

The council will also use a communications campaign to engage with residents on recycling and help tackle the causes of fly-tipping.

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