The party say there has been a “dramatic increase” in fly-tipping hotspots in Oldham and has proposed a motion for a council meeting later this month to question whether current measures are effective in cracking down on the problem.
Cllr Sam Al-Hamdani said a national consultation into organised crime involved with fly-tipping is ongoing and says behaviour described in that is “consistent with the activity we are seeing in our area”.
He said he has spoken to environmental health officers who said fly-tipping incidents were not “individuals tipping” but signs of “illegal house clearances”.
Rubbish dumped in Oldham
Fellow Liberal Democrats councillor, Hazel Gloster, who represents Shaw, said: “This has got beyond a nuisance.
“There are criminal gangs who are taking advantage, in particular of the ‘grey market’ around house clearance, and it is local residents who are suffering.
“People from every part of the town suffer, and as these gangs look for isolated spots in which to tip the waste, it is often the most picturesque parts of the town that suffer.
“While the council teams are very good at clearing fly-tipping once it has happened, we need to know that this is being stopped at the source, both by successful prosecutions and by information and education to make sure residents and businesses know what their rights and responsibilities are.”
As well as calling for an annual report that details the spending on all aspects of fly-tipping, its causes and the effectiveness of the campaigns, the motion will call on the council to back changes to the law.
The Liberal Democrats argue this would make it easier to prosecute illegal tipping and it wants money raised through prosecutions to go into cleaning up.
Fly-tipping in Oldham
Cllr Al-Hamdani, who represents Saddleworth West and Lees, added: “At the moment, the fly-tippers are taking advantage, and it is council taxpayers who are picking up the bill.
“That needs to change, and the council needs to demand that in response to the current national consultation on this.
“I want more powers to prosecute these gangs, and I want to make sure that they pick up as much of the bill for this as possible.
“Everyone in Oldham has seen the shameful mess that this causes, and they shouldn’t be forced to pick up the bill.
“Let’s make sure that the people who are causing it do.”
In response, Oldham Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, Cllr Amanda Chadderton, said: “Under Labour, Oldham Council has gone further than ever before in our attempts to tackle the dumping of waste and fly-tipping.
“This year we have invested over £1m in our Don’t Trash Oldham scheme and have committed to doing so again next year.
“Oldham Liberal Democrats have clearly seen how positively Don’t Trash Oldham has been received and are now trying to jump on the bandwagon of its success.
“We know that our residents want to live in a cleaner Oldham and we know that the overwhelming majority of people are responsible, dispose of waste of correctly and are supportive of what we are doing to make Oldham cleaner.
“It is good to see that the Liberal Democrats have finally woken up to the issues that matter most to our residents, but while they have been sleeping, Don’t Trash Oldham has led to nine wards deep being cleaned, 150 tons of waste being removed off the streets, nearly 300 alleyways cleared and over 1,700 roads cleaned.
“That has all been achieved only six months into the programme of planned activity.
“In addition to this, because we know this isn’t just about removing waste, we have to stop people being doing it, we have fined 301 people for environmental crimes, successfully prosecuted 18 people in court and recruited more staff to both our fly-tipping and enforcement teams.
“We would like to see people being given bigger fines and sent to jail, these things are set nationally but we would welcome any changes to legislation.
“We always urge residents, if they have hired someone to take their waste, to check that those people have a waste carriers licence.
“If residents don’t and that rubbish is fly-tipped, it could be them that ends up prosecuted.”
Cllr Amanda Chadderton, council leader Arooj Shah and council workers involved with the Don’t Trash Oldham campaign
Cllr Chadderton, who is also the deputy council leader, said the local authority is “not aware of any organised criminal gangs that are doing as the Liberal Democrats claim”.
She urged the party to report any “tangible intelligence they have” to the council or Greater Manchester Police which would then be “investigated and action will be taken”.