FLY-TIPPING in Blackburn with Darwen has reduced since the council offered free skips and cut the charge for bulky waste.

Borough environment boss Jim Smith said the initiative would continue but warned those who illegally dump rubbish would be taken to court.

Some 21 skips have been dotted around the borough in the past month, collecting 20 tonnes of rubbish. And in early December, the borough halved the cost for collecting bulky items from £20 to £10.

Figures show that in November, the council took 165 payments for bulky collections, and received 369 reports of fly-tipping.

In contrast, in December, it took 201 payments for bulky collections, and recorded 305 fly-tipping incidents.

Coun Smith told the executive board that early results for January indicated the trend was continuing.

Tory opposition leader Mike Lee welcomed the approach, saying: “This is a good idea but we must continue to prosecute fly-tippers.”

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “Fly-tippers are totally irresponsible. This carrot and stick policy seems to be working.

“The council is doing the right thing to make it easier and cheaper to dispose of bulky waste and to make clear that people who do dump rubbish will end up in court.”

On Saturday, skips were at three more locations – The Barlow Institute, Edgworth; Meadowhead Close, Blackburn; and Scotland Bank Terrace, Blackburn.

Coun Smith said: “These events have been successful and I am pleased we can provide this service. As a council, we will always look at ways to help our residents dispose of their waste in a responsible manner.

“It is fantastic to see residents making good use of it, and that reports of fly-tipping are down.

“Fly-tipping and littering remain a real concern, and we will continue to prosecute those who flout the law and dump waste.

“They are at odds with the majority of residents who don’t litter our streets.”

Liberal Democrat leader David Foster said: “It is important to help people dispose of waste but also right to throw the book at fly-tippers.”