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Dirty mattresses, dog droppings and broken toys: Lancashire town besieged by fly tipping

Residents of Oswaldtwistle say they are “disgusted” and “appalled” by the amount of illegal dumping that can be seen in the town.

Fly tipping has increased in Hyndburn over the past six months, with abandoned rubbish appearing as soon as more piles have been cleared by Hyndburn Borough Council or volunteers. Items that have been dumped in public streets and alleyways include entire mattresses, sofas, doors and unwanted children’s toys.

Resident John Whitehead, 74, who has lived in Oswaldtwistle for most of his life, said: ‘I am truly disgusted at the sight of all this rubbish, and I can honestly say that in all my years of living here , it’s at its worst today.

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“It looks absolutely awful and it’s not really a welcoming or appealing look to non-locals visiting our city – something needs to be done now.

“I remember back in the late 70s and early 80s when this city was spotless, there was no litter on the sidewalks, there were no black trash bags on the streets because people were proud of where they lived.”

Piles of rubbish were dumped on the streets

Hyndburn Borough Council offers residents what is called a ‘bulky waste collection service’ for items such as unwanted furniture, electrical appliances, white goods and textiles. Once notified, the service will remove up to six items at a time.

It is one of the only local authorities in England to offer such a service completely free of charge. Trash now causes significant damage to the environment, attracts vermin while making the city look unclean.

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Ali Patel, 35, who recently moved to Oswaldtwistle from Burnley, said: “My wife and I have just bought a house here, and we absolutely love it. But what’s really annoying here is the amount of fly tipping in public spaces – you can see it in the streets, you can see it in the fields and it kind of surrounds you.

“I am appalled because there is absolutely no excuse for this type of behavior, I was brought up to put unwanted waste in the bin or dumpster; it’s sad that some people think it’s okay to leave it lying around.

Fly tipping was already a problem for the region before the coronavirus pandemic, but after the nationwide shutdowns that followed, the problem has grown significantly. Many household waste and recycling centers have been forced to close during the shutdowns, and some have suggested this may be behind the increase in fly tipping.

Professor Ben Watkinson of the Environment Agency (EA) said: “We have heard of situations like this all over the country and Hyndburn is not alone in this. It appears that across the UK individuals, at some point during the lockdown period, decided to dump their rubbish and unwanted items in public spaces.

“Research suggests this behavior increased when local recycling centers were forced to close by the government because they were deemed non-essential. However, there is no excuse for this appalling behavior as it clearly disrupts natural and scenic landscapes while causing eyesore.