Prosecutions in pipeline following Tooting Common flytip

Published: Wednesday 30th October 13

The council is poised to prosecute two travellers in connection with a huge flytip that was dumped on Tooting Common last month.

Two men are expected to appear in court charged with breaking environmental protection laws following a joint council and police investigation into a massive flytip that appeared on the common at the same time as an illegal occupation by a group of travellers.

The investigation has uncovered sufficient evidence to link two of the travellers and their vehicles to the dumping of rubbish in and around Bedford Wood.

The investigation was launched after 40 tonnes of rubbish was dumped on the common, sparking a massive clean up operation that left local tax payers shouldering a £10,000 bill.

Huge piles of timber, rubble, mattresses, furniture and other household waste appeared on the common at the same time as a group of travellers in 19 caravans, cars and transit vans.

News of the impending prosecutions comes just days ahead of a summit that’s been organised by Wandsworth to look at the problems associated with traveller invasions of green spaces in this part of south west London.

Representatives from neighbouring boroughs have been invited along with the police and other landowners like the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators who were left with a costly clean up bill earlier this month following a traveller invasion of Putney Heath.

The summit will examine what tactics can be used to deter traveller occupations and how cross-border co-operation can be improved to prevent public parks and open spaces from being damaged and despoiled by unlawful camps.

Environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “The sheer amount of rubbish and waste that was illegally dumped on Tooting Common was absolutely breathtaking. Since then we have been gathering evidence to ascertain who was involved and I’m delighted to say that we now appear to have enough evidence to bring prosecutions against two individuals.

“If these cases do result in convictions then I certainly hope that the courts fully take into account the outrage and anger that these environmental crimes caused throughout our community and the very significant financial cost that local people were forced to pay for the clear up.”

Cllr Cook has also repeated his message to local residents to say a resounding no to cold callers who knock on doors and offer to take away rubbish.

He said: "If someone knocks on your door and offers to take away any DIY or home improvement waste or rubble that’s being stored in your front garden, then there is a good chance they will take your money, drive around the corner and dump the rubbish in the street or in a local park.

“It’s also important to make sure that if you are employing builders to carry out works to your property that you know exactly how they’re disposing of any waste materials.” 

Strict environmental protection laws prohibit the transport of waste by unregistered and unlicensed contractors. This is to ensure that the waste is lawfully disposed of rather then being illegally dumped.

Residents employing a waste removal firm should always ask to see the relevant waste transfer notes to ensure it is being disposed of lawfully and they should also ask to see a waste carrier’s licence.

Companies that offer to transport and remove waste on behalf of others must have a carrier's license issued by the Environment Agency.

Residents wanting rubbish cleared can call the town hall. The council will remove waste for a modest fee. If households choose a licensed private contractor instead they must make sure they get a proper receipt.

Residents who witness any incident involving travellers on council-owned land are being urged to contact the town hall's emergency response team. This is a 24 hour service. Occupations of other land should be reported immediately to the police.

The council provides an approved travellers site in Trewint Street, Earlsfield.

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Recent comments

I am absolutely delighted that two people are being taken to court. As a regular user of Tootting Common and particularly where the rubbish was dumped we were all appalled at the amount of rubbish that turned up. The travellers arrived on the Tuesday afternoon and by the next morning the rubbish was piling up. This became a no go area for the week that the rubbish was there as there was also human excrement all over the woods and in the grassy area which became a nightmare walking with dogs. The logs that have been placed blocking their entrance hopefully will do the job of keeping them out but an awful lot of Tooting common has open paths!
diana wemyss

5 November 2013