Leeds: The teams leading city’s war on grime and anti-social crime

Amy Dickinson, Environment Action Officer at Leeds City Council, with rubbish dumped in a back yard in Chapeltown.
Amy Dickinson, Environment Action Officer at Leeds City Council, with rubbish dumped in a back yard in Chapeltown.
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THE YEP accompanied Leeds City Council environmental action officer Amy Dickinson on a walkabout in one of her target spots in Chapeltown.

In amongst the majority of well-kept homes and back gardens, the problems were clear to see.

We visited one garden piled high with old mattresses and furniture which had clearly been around for a while.

Much of it could have been dealt with by hiring a skip – or by booking a bulky waste collection via the council’s service.

But the real unpleasantness came when we visited a communal binyard.

Bags of rubbish, a duvet, nappies, foodstuffs and other perishables had been thrown into the space, turning it into a festering mass that would disturb the strongest of constitutions.

But for Amy and her colleagues, this is an everyday sight.

She admits hers is the kind of job that wouldn’t even be needed in an ideal world.

“On an average day I would visit four or five properties,” she explains.

“It’s something that we deal with quite regularly.

“There are quite a few properties that have waste in the gardens and there are also a lot of streets with a lot of flytipping.

“People are supposed to put their wheelie bins in binyards but instead they are used for flytipping.”

Asked if sights like the flowing binyard we saw frustrate her, she can’t deny that it gets to her.

“People should be disposing of their waste legally and properly,” she says.

“There’s no excuse – if you have a domestic bin, then you should be using that.

“This could be a private or public binyard. If it’s a private binyard, it’s up to the owner to sort it.”

Amy has a few simple requests for householders, which would make both their own lives – and her team’s jobs – easier.

“If you are doing any work to your property, please keep the waste contained, maybe get a skip.

“Or if you are having it taken away, give it to someone with a proper waste carrier’s licence.

“And keep your garden neat and tidy, because people don’t want to live next door to somewhere that is a mess.

“People want to live in a nice, clean area.

“Places like this just make people want to flytip more and give the area a bad name.

“And it encourages anti-social behaviour and other problems.”

ENFORCEMENT: Leeds City Council operates a ‘three strikes’ rule when it comes to enforcement for flytipping and other community blights. It starts with a knock on the door - or a letter. People are then given a couple of opportunities to clear up the mess but after a final letter, legal action will be started. A legal notice is served, or a fixed penalty notice can be applied. And, in the most serious cases, prosecution follows. Flytipping on the public highway can carry a five-year prison sentence and up to £50,000 fine.

SHARE YOUR STORY: Is your community blighted by flytipping, dog mess and other issues highlighted in this article? Or is your neighbourhood already fighting back? Call 0113 2388122 or comment on our facebook page.