GMB, the union for refuse and street cleaning workers, said that zero tolerance needed on fly tipping and councils must ‘up their game’.
It added that its study found that East of England councils took too few actions following 61,423 incidents in 2019/20.
GMB London and East of England said that as well as punishing fly-tippers, councils must make it easy to use recycling and collection schemes for bulk items while pandemic access restrictions on using recycling centres requiring bookings need to be rolled back.
Its research found that the 45 councils in the East of England took 43,024 actions to deal with 61,423 fly-tipping incidents recorded in the region for 2019/20.
Actions on fly-tipping by councils include: warning letters, statutory notices, fixed penalty notices, formal cautions, stop and search, vehicle seizures, injunctions, prosecutions. Overall across the region councils took 43,024 actions. This is seven actions for every ten incidents across the region.
Warren Kenny, GMB London Regional Secretary, said:
“Government and local councils have to be more proactive in dealing with fly-tipping incidents. The data for 2019/20 shows far too much variation in the numbers of actions councils take in response to fly-tipping incidents.
“Some councils take far too little action. Many councils need to up their game on dealing with fly-tipping and fly-tippers.”
GMB London and East of England said Southend on Sea is the most proactive, with nearly five actions per fly-tipping incident.
Next is West Suffolk, North Norfolk and Dacorum with more than two and Cambridge with 1.6 actions per fly-tipping incident.
Central Bedfordshire, Norwich, Uttlesford, Colchester and Tendering by contrast have five or less actions for every 100 fly-tipping incidents.
The councils who took most actions were Peterborough 4,563, Southend on Sea 4,125, Basildon 3,700, Dacorum 2,652 and Harlow 2,573.
At the other end of the scale were Central Bedfordshire 0, Uttlesford 13, Tendering 33, Brentwood 53 and Mid Suffolk 56.
Warren Kenny said:
"There needs to be better education on the costs of dealing with the problem and how people can dispose of rubbish and unwanted items properly.
"Councils must invest in easy to access recycling and disposal facilities for residents to use and offer accessible collection schemes for bulk items. Recent restrictions on using recycling centres due to the pandemic in terms of capacity and access without bookings need to be rolled back. They must not become permanent or make access to them more difficult.
"Finally, councils have to firmly clamp down on fly-tipping by larger fines, investment in surveillance equipment and rigorous investigation of incidents and follow up action. Some councils have a poor record on this which encourages an attitude of impunity.
"A uniform policy, across East of England of punishing cowboy builders identified flytipping to confiscate their vehicles would send the right message.
"We need a policy of zero tolerance with action against fly-tipping on all fronts at all times."
A spokesperson for Central Bedfordshire Council said:
"We have not previously supplied data for all of the data sets in the GMB figures, which explains the low numbers. We are reviewing our data collection processes for 21/22 and onwards in order to provide a more complete picture in future.
"In 19/20 we issued 21 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNS) for fly-tipping related offences, and in 20/21 60 FPNS were issued.
When asked if the Council had a target for the end of the need to book a slot to use a tidy tip, the spokesperson added:
"We plan to continue to promote the booking system further until we have systems in place for trade waste booking (at Thorn Turn) and general permits.
"Once this is organised, we will be reviewing the system requiring Central Bedfordshire residents to book a slot, and changes will be made subject to the relevant approvals."
Information on reporting fly-tipping in Central bedfordshire and how to book a slot at the Council's tidy tips can be found here.