So green, so obscene

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FLY-TIPPED filth on the streets of Hillingdon is undermining the borough’s reputation as one of the greenest areas in the country, it has been claimed.

Hillingdon Council last month was declared the ‘capital’s greenest borough’ after winning Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag award for the ninth consecutive year. This recognised the cleanliness and environmental-friendliness of the borough’s parks and green spaces.

But Labour opposition leader Peter Curling criticised his Tory rivals for the way they were lauding the awards “especially when you see a green flag flying around a park that is full of litter, has rubbish bins overflowing, silver nitrous oxide canisters everywhere and fly-tipped rubbish in our public open spaces”.

However, a community group called Hillingdon Litter Pickers – which regularly pull bags of rubbish from canals and the streets – praised the Conservative-run council saying: “We work very closely with Hillingdon Council and their service to us is exceptional. Together we get litter and fly-tips off the street within 24 hours.”

The council says its recent messages to residents have helped significantly reduce the problem. However, The Hillingdon Herald found nine instances of fly-tipping in and around Hayes town in one morning, with beer cans, cigarette packets and other rubbish lining the streets and waterways.

Street in Hayes, Hillingdon with litter on the ground.
A street in Hayes littered with Rubbish.

Litter undermining green flags: Labour

For the ninth consecutive year, the borough has won Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag Award, naming it the greenest local authority in the country — however, our pictures show litter and fly-tipping marring the streets.

Labour Leader Peter Curling has questioned the value of such awards citing the actual state of rubbish on the ground. 

He said: “Whilst we support the aims of the Green Flag Award Scheme, we do believe that the Conservatives’ cynical use of them, runs the risk of undermining the value of the scheme.  Especially when you see a green flag flying around a park that is full of litter, has rubbish bins overflowing, silver nitrous oxide canisters everywhere and fly-tipped rubbish in our public open spaces.”

He added: “The Labour group regularly report fly-tipping and have made various suggestions in motions and budget amendments over the last few years, including; better enforcement action and high fines for fly-tippers, as well as increased patrol officers and park wardens.”

However, the Conservative-run council hit back, saying: “Our proactive work includes social media campaigns and information to residents through our publications to remind them of their responsibilities. Over the past nine months alone this approach has achieved a 22 per cent reduction in incidents. 

“Our civic amenity site in Harefield and West Drayton waste weekends provide excellent options for residents to dispose of their waste and we also offer a bulky waste collection service, so there’s really no excuse.”

Hillingdon Council also said fly-tipping was a notoriously difficult crime to prosecute as offenders rarely leave evidence of who they are and it claimed that it does “pursue the strongest course of action available” when fly-tippers were caught.   

Community groups such as Hillingdon Litter Pickers pull bags of rubbish daily from parks, motorways and canals in Hillingdon. 

David Posnett, the founder of the Hillingdon Litter Pickers, said: “Fly-tipping is still happening, a recent report I heard of was rubbish dumped in Charville Lane, next to the CCTV camera.  This shows that CCTV is not a deterrent although that’s not to say that the offender won’t be recognised and fined.”

He went on to state that the placing of bins in public areas was a double-edged sword. Bins placed in parks and high streets tended to help with the problem, while bins in rural areas tend to attract small-scale fly-tippers — whose rubbish would then be strewn about by local wildlife.  

He said: “Without a rural bin, this well-intentioned fly-tipping does not happen.  Sure, you may get some litter, but in general terms, the litterers don’t use a bin.”

Bin in Hayes Town overflowing with rubbish.
Several bins in Hayes Town were overflowing with Rubbish.

He also praised the group’s relationship with Hillingdon Council and claimed, by working together, they were able to remove fly-tipping and litter from the streets within 24 hours. 

In our last issue, we published a report in which Hillingdon Litter Pickers removed five bags of rubbish from a local canal. 

The cleaning of canals and rivers does not come under the responsibility of the council and is managed by the Canal and River Trust and the Environmental Agency respectively.

Councillor for Botwell, Janet Gardner (Lab), noted that some small businesses may be dumping their rubbish on the street. 

She said: “I think that every business should have a trade waste agreement, if they pay business tax to the borough then they shouldn’t be difficult to contact, many small businesses just dump their waste on the pavements in the town next to a bin, knowing it will be collected.”

She also said residents should be given a “good citizen award” for reporting instances of littering and fly-tipping.

In 2019 the penalty for fly-tipping was increased in the borough from fixed-penalty-notice of just £100 to £400, where it remains today. 

Although local authorities have the ability to fine small-scale fly-tippers £400, more severe cases and repeat offenders can be referred to magistrates’ court where culprits, if found guilty, can be given a 6-month prison sentence, an unlimited fine, or both

You can join the Hillingdon Litter Pickers by joining their Facebook group of the same name. 

This article appeared in print on November 16, 2021, in The Hillingdon Herald.

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