It is fairly self-evident that the fly-tipping in the Normanton area is a symptom of an underlying problem that is more profound and complex than people just dumping large, unsightly items in the street. If it was just a question of wanton littering then it could be resolved relatively easily.
I joined the Normanton Empowerment Team walkabout , again on 5th August, just to get a sense of how the situation had changed over the last month. The area covered was modest, principally in the Almond Street to Middleton Street zone. Whilst we were not met with an abundance of fridges and sofas piled up in the street there was a case which illustrated how tenants may be forced into creating a fly-tipping problem due to the questionable conduct of the landlord.
The walk was joined by local Councillors Sandhu and Khan who have the details of this case.
As part of a routine examination, an entry door ( between 2 houses) was opened just to see if there was any disruption or blockage affecting access. The whole passage way was full of sofas and mattresses preventing any passage from the back to the front.
The out-house / shed was rammed full of rubbish including another mattress. A brief discussion with the tenants highlighted that it was in that state when they arrived.
The tenant rang the landlord who came to meet us and a discussion took place with Councillor Khan. The landlord who was a very well-spoken, professional man did not contest that the materials in the entry were his responsibility and proceeded to explain how a series of missed appointments and unfortunate events, involving Streetpride, over a period of weeks had resulted in the items still not having been collected. When he was asked about the contents of the outhouse he admitted that he was not aware of them and said he would look into it.
I asked him about the workmanship around a vent at the back of the house which looked, to a lay person, to be sub-standard. He quickly responded by saying that it had been passed off by the building inspector.
It is the responsibility of the landlord to have cleared the property of the unwanted items before it was re-let. Whilst he sounded credible, I am very skeptical about the sequence of events. The delay in solving the problem would leave the tenants in a difficult position as they had no means of getting their council bins from the rear to the front of the property. Additionally other rubbish was beginning to pile up in the entry as a result of the poor access.
This house, which has 3 bedrooms was being let for £500 per month. The garden area was in a poor state of repair. The brick walls were crumbling and dangerous, particularly with small children around.
This landlord had a number of properties in the area, and clearly did not have time to give them the proper attention necessary, even at the most basic of levels. At some point the build-up of rubbish would need to have been dealt with and would undoubtedly find it’s way on to the street. In this case it would be seen to be due to the carefree attitude of the migrant tenants when in fact it would have been the delinquence of the landlord. Hopefully, in this case, he will be prompted into action and it will not result in this. Such personal attention by the local Councillors cannot be an efficient way of monitoring landlords who have a duty of care to their tenants and the neighbourhood.
Whilst this is one example – it is not an isolated case.
Perhaps the Council should implement stricter controls that ensure that landlords meet their legal, and moral, obligations to their tenants and the local community. The benefits to the wider population may be more significant than they realize.