The cost and repercussions of fly tipping at a London Playing Fields Foundation (LPFF) site earlier this year is a valuable lesson for all playing field providers.
“We became the latest victim of industrial-scale fly tipping when a group of intruders broke into one of our grounds and covered an entire football pitch with rubbish, mostly domestic building waste,” says LPFF chief executive Alex Welsh.
“Having secured the site, the intruders knew they had several days before we were able to ‘evict’ them through the courts. They claimed squatters’ rights and stayed for 10 days, leaving damage estimated at more than £100,000.
“Although we have insurance cover, the amount of fly tipping went way beyond any normal provision and the compensation pay-out will probably be a fraction of the actual cost of clearing the site.”
He continues: “As a charity set up for the common good, to protect, provide and promote spaces for people to play sport, we are intensely frustrated that we are left to foot the bill for an obvious criminal act in which the trespassers acted with apparent impunity while the police appeared to be powerless.
“What makes it worse, being a charity not funded by the council tax payer but instead dependent on hiring income, we now have a pitch that we can no longer rent. The extensive damage to the pitch and the vandalism to the pavilion - where all boilers and pipework were ripped out - means that it will be a long time before the pitch and ancillary facilities will be fit for use.”
Nationwide it is estimated that this £1billion racket cost over £50million in 2016 and of the 315,000 cases launched by councils only 2,135 reached court. The average fine was £370.
Alex concludes: “Isn’t it time that enforcement measures are strengthened and that the punishment fits the crime?