Alton based Simon Clifford plans to bring a private prosecution against a firm that dumped builder’s trade waste at the entrance of his land.
Mr Clifford claims that rubbish thought to be from a house renovation or clearance was fly-tipped onto his property, blocking the gate to his field back in May. Mr Clifford was left to remove the waste which set him back by £1000.
Prior to removing the waste himself, Mr Clifford had contacted East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) and had been informed that as the waste had been dumped on private land, the EHDC had no statutory duty to remove it.
Due to the amount of evidence left on his property, an investigation was launched to find out who had tipped the rubbish. As the EHDC had been so slow in action, Mr Clifford had requested the ombudsman investigate the council for maladministration.
Mr Clifford hopes for a successful prosecution to be brought against the offender by the local authority before he can launch a private prosecution case. He feels that the EHDC are taking too long and may be dragging their heels.
The EHDC claims that cases of this nature take some time to build but that it has carried out an extensive investigation.
Statistics show that councils in England have dealt with over one million incidents of fly-tipping in 2016/17 which has cost tax payers up to £58 million to clear. The cost of which, does not take into consideration the amount private land owners must pay to clear the rubbish. The EHDC commented that Mr Clifford’s case highlights a national frustration over fly-tipping.
Mr Clifford, who is determined to bring a private prosecution case against the perpetrator, has written to the East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds twice and has since conducted his own investigations into the incident.
Mr Clifford claims he knows who the rubbish came from, identifying both the builder and the customer, but does not think they are to blame for the debris being left on his land. He believes the builder had paid a licences waste carrier to remove the rubbish from a residential site and that there is paperwork to prove this. Mr Clifford also believes that the EHDC hold this information but they are stalling the investigation. Irrespective of the council’s claims of being pro-active over fly-tipping, he notes their low record for prosecutions of this kind.
Data secured by Mr Clifford, demonstrates that between 2015/16 cases of fly tipping rose in East Hampshire from 544 to 682 however there had been no prosecutions. On this basis, he believes that assumptions can be made that the lack of prosecutions will continue this year.
Mr Clifford maintains that he is “incandescent” over the lack of progress shown by the council considering the significant amount of money, time and effort he has put into the investigation.
A spokesperson for the EHDC stated that they had carried out an extensive investigation into Mr Clifford’s case and that once all evidence has been gathered, the council’s legal team will review it to see if there is enough to move forward with pursuing a prosecution or consider taking other measures.
The council spokesperson further commented that since the beginning of May when the investigation started, the investigating officer has kept in regular contact with Mr Clifford but that prosecuting fly-tippers requires a high standard of evidence to be relied upon in a court of law.
As of May this year, the EHDC have had an officer solely dedicated to investigating fly tipping. So far, 16 investigations have been carried out and Mr Clifford’s has been the largest. Of the other investigations, five have led to individuals agreeing to clear minor tips so not to face prosecution but five others have had no result and six are still ongoing in their investigations.
“This case highlights one of the many and varied reasons why businesses and individuals are turning to the criminal justice system to bring private prosecutions.
The upward trend of private prosecutions continues, along with the varying types of offences that are taken to court. It is no longer the domain of large commercial companies alone prosecuting corporate offences.”