Dozens of people have signed a petition demanding the reopening of Stoke-on-Trent’s two tips.
The waste recycling centres – at Hanford and Burslem – have been closed for weeks after being shutdown as part of the Government coronavirus lockdown.
But fly-tipping has increased across the city – with 34 offenders handed fines in just four weeks.
Hot-spot areas include Redhills Road, in Milton; Coseley Street, in Smallthorne; Scott Lidgett Road, in Longport; King William Street, in Tunstall; and Kirk Street, in Smallthorne.
Now Labour councillor Jane Ashworth has started an online petition calling for the tips to ‘reopen as soon as possible for the essential dumping of domestic and business waste’. It also calls for a ‘social distancing system’ to be introduced at the sites.
Ms Ashworth said: “The safety of staff and residents is of paramount importance and we need to get the balance right so that our tips can safely reopen.
“We have seen a significant increase in fly-tipping across the city. While I fully support strong enforcement measures the current closure of the tips is creating significant problems. For some residents and businesses, it is essential that their rotting rubbish is removed.
“I am asking the council to work with its operator to identify a solution. Government guidelines say that where possible key waste sites should be maintained as long as social distancing rules can be followed. This is already being done safely in other areas, such as Wigan, so it is possible with a bit of planning to get the balance right.”
Labour leader Mohammed Pervez has also written to Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown calling for the tips to reopen.
He wrote: “I am not aware of any specific Government directive which calls for the closure of tips as long as social distancing measures can be adhered to.
“We have now seen a massive increase in fly-tipping in our neighbourhoods across the city and this pattern is likely to continue. While I accept that fly-tipping is a behavioural issue, we cannot ignore the negative impact of the closure of these tips.”
“Residents of neighbourhoods blighted by fly-tipping are crying out for something to be done.”
The Government’s Department of Environment and Rural Affairs wants councils to keep tips open.
But Mrs Brown says the decision to close the city’s waste recycling centres was made by the private operator and that more than 90 per cent of tips remain closed across the country.
She said: “Our tips are operated for us by contractors. We spoke to them at the time and they wanted to close them, their rationale was ‘a trip to the tip is not an essential journey’.
“We have seen pictures in the national press where a minority of councils have opened their tips. There’s a picture of a woman throwing a cuddly toy away, I believe his name is Kevin the Carrot. Well throwing away Kevin is not an essential trip.
“We continue to review the situation. However, the guidance at the moment is for people to stay at home and save lives.
“Opening the tips would endanger all the great work we’ve done so far in protecting people’s lives.
“As a city, we’ve had a lower level of infection than many other places. That’s because people have been following the guidance across the city and staying at home. Opening the tips would jeopardise this and put people’s lives at risk.”
The petitions can be viewed here.