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Van seized following 'Middlesbrough's worst fly-tip' put to work cleaning up the town

Environment and climate change

Thursday, 16 May 2024
Mayor Chris Cooke, Exec Member for Environment Peter Gavigan and officers from the council's Flying Squad with the newly put to work van

A van linked to one of the worst cases of fly-tipping in Middlesbrough’s history is back on the road on the right side of the law.

Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke this week renewed his commitment to crack down on environmental crime as he watched the rebranded vehicle put through its paces.

There was outrage in 2021 when Council officers were confronted with a staggering 61 tonnes of household and building waste dumped near a children’s nursery on the town’s Turford Avenue.

The environmental hazard – which included potentially lethal asbestos, refrigerators and 30 mattresses – cost more than £14,000 to clear up.

Darren Mills was subsequently given a nine-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work.

Mills was also made the subject of a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order which prevents him from carrying any waste not produced by himself in any vehicle under his control, and from advertising or promoting any services relating to the carrying, disposal or management of waste.

The self-styled ‘Van Man Mills’ also saw his vehicle seized and put back to work fighting the scourge of fly-tipping.

The box-back Vauxhall van has been given complete makeover, with highly visible warnings to would-be offenders that ‘Fly-tipping is a crime!’ and ‘We Are Watching’.

A stark message on the bonnet reads: “This van was seized after being used to fly-tip in Middlesbrough.

“It’s now used to clean up our town.”

The new member of the Council’s fly-tipping Flying Squad was in action this week in the Saltersgill Avenue area as part of an intensive ongoing crackdown on environmental crime.

Since the implementation of increased fines for environmental crimes at the end of last year the team has issued 46 high level Fixed Penalty Notices which range from £300 for littering offences to £800 for fly-tipping.

More than 100 tonnes of fly-tipped waste has been removed from the streets of Middlesbrough in the last six months by the six-strong flying squad, and there have been three successful court prosecutions for fly tipping offences since January.

The team has also  seized 116 abandoned/illegal vehicles in the last six months and have disposed of 68 of those, while one vehicle used for fly-tipping has been crushed.

Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke said: “Fly-tipping is an outrage that blights communities, and we won’t tolerate it.

“It’s a senseless, needless and selfish crime, and we’re coming after those responsible.

“This van was directly linked to one of the worst cases we’ve ever seen, and one which had the potential to put lives at risk.

“Instead of crushing this van as we would have in years gone by we have decided to re-use it which will act as a powerful deterrent to anyone tempted to fly-tip, and as a reassurance to law-abiding residents that we will act on the information they give us and put the culprits before the courts.”

Fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and many other offences can also be reported online.

Middlesbrough Council offers a safe, free or inexpensive bulky waste collection service. For more information and to request a collection, visit the council's website or call 01642 726001.

Mayor Chris Cooke, Exec Member for Environment Peter Gavigan (inside the van) and officers from the council's Flying Squad with the newly put to work van