A new campaign to stop people illegally dumping their rubbish in Leicestershire has launched.
The #IfOnly campaign has seen councils across the city and county join forces to warn people that they face tough action if they are caught fly-tipping.
The consequences for their actions can range from a £400 fixed penalty notice to an unlimited fine, a criminal record or time in prison.
Fly-tipping is a huge problem in Leicester and across each district in the county, with councils dealing with 12,000 incidents per year.
The new campaign focuses on the stories of four characters – based on real people who have been caught fly-tipping in the past.
The examples show that people can be caught for all sorts of reasons, from putting a fridge on the pavement to dumping bags by a local recycling bank.
Residents can also be fined and prosecuted for using a dodgy trader who doesn’t have a waste licence and operates door-to-door.
Cllr Margaret Smidowicz, Charnwood Borough Council’s lead member for regulatory services, said: “We are strongly supporting this campaign as fly-tipping is a blight on landscapes across the county.
“It is simply not acceptable to dump rubbish illegally as it not only creates an eyesore, but we all end up paying for the cost of removing it.
“I can assure residents that we use all the powers at our disposal to tackle fly-tipping and that includes issuing £400 fixed penalty notices. This campaign to raise awareness of the issues is another way.
“However, we all need to be responsible for our own waste and there are steps people can take themselves such as making sure they only used licensed waste carriers to take away their waste.
“People need to realise that if someone offers to take away your rubbish and then they dump it illegally, you could be the one who ends up in court and with a criminal record.”
Blake Pain, county council cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “I’m pleased that all of the Leicestershire councils are working together in partnership to tackle this issue. It’s a blight on our environment and costs tax-payers’ money to sort out.
“Deterring people from fly-tipping is important and we provide a number of ways for waste to be disposed. However, if your waste is dumped inappropriately, either by you or someone you’ve given it to, you can be prosecuted and get a criminal record.”
Councillor Kirk Master, assistant city mayor for neighbourhood services, said: “Fly-tipping is an unnecessary blight. In Leicester, we offer residents a bulk collection for domestic waste so there’s really no excuse for anyone to dump household rubbish in this way.
“Our city wardens investigate all incidents of fly-tipping and will always attempt to trace those responsible.
“This new campaign will help remind people that they have a responsibility to dispose of their waste safely and within the law, and that failure to do so could result in a hefty fine.” People can visit the campaign website at www.lesswaste.org.uk/flytipping and follow the campaign on social media #IfOnly