COUNCILS across East Lancashire have been urged to use 'on the spot' fines for fly-tippers' after several failed to use the new power in its first year of operation.

Figures released today show Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley boroughs did not issue a single Fixed Penalty Notice for illegal rubbish dumping in the 12 months since new legislation came into force in May 2016.

Pendle borough in contrast issued 44 'on the spot fines' of between £150-£400, raising £4,800.

It has since issued another 20 and taken nine offenders to court for more serious offences.

Blackburn with Darwen imposed three fines totalling £900 as it started to use the powers after installing hidden CCTV cameras in borough 'hotspots'.

Chorley issued one for £200.

Town Hall bosses said there were problems as fly-tippers had to be caught in the act or on camera to impose the notices, which are quicker and cheaper than court prosecutions.

Yesterday senior councillors urged the local authorities to invest in the technology needed to use the fast-track, low-cost system.

In 2015/16 there were 18,196 incidents of unlawful dumping across the seven council areas.

Pendle Council’s corporate director Philip Mousdale said: “We take a tough line with fly-tipping and the new legislation has helped us."

Cllr Paul Cox, Hyndburn council's environment boss, said his borough was investing in the camera technology to use the fixed penalty powers.

A spokesman for Burnley Council, one of the biggest prosecutors in the country for the offence taking dozens of cases a year to court, said: "A fixed penalty notice for flytipping should only be issued when there is sufficient evidence to prove that the recipient is the person who actually deposited the litter.

"This option is only really suitable for when we catch people in the act or they admit to fly tipping during the investigation.

"However, the council takes a robust approach to tackling flytipping by using other available legislation."

Oswaldtwistle County Cllr Peter Britcliffe, Mayor of Hyndburn, said: "I would like to see Hyndburn and other councils use all the powers available to them to tackle fly-tipping which is a blight on many East Lancashire communities."

Cllr David Heginbotham, leader of Burnley borough Conservative group said: "The council should be looking at making more use of body and CCTV cameras to make the most of this new fast-track lower-cost power.

"While I welcome its high prosecution rate, they need to use every means available to tackle this blight on the borough."

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, his Liberal Democrat counterpart, said: "I think the council has it right in prosecuting the worst fly-tippers, but I feel that it should make use of fixed penalty notices for less serious offences. This would help with prevention and deterrence."

Cllr Roy Davies, who represents Sudell ward in Darwen, said: "Councils need to use every power they have to tackle fly-tipping.

"I welcome Blackburn with Darwen borough starting to use the fix penalty notices and hopefully as they bring in more CCTV cameras that will increase.

"However we need court prosecutions for the most serious cases."

Cllr Cox said: “Hyndburn council's dedicated enforcement teams are out and about each day to remove this blight from our borough.

"We’re currently developing a process which harnesses new technology so that enforcement officers can use mobile phones to collect evidence and issue the new fixed penalty notices whilst on site, which we aim to introduce within the coming months."

Tony Watson, Blackburn with Darwen's environment boss, said: “Since introducing overt and covert cameras to catch offenders fly-tipping, we have prioritised the use of CCTV evidence for behaviour change, penalties and also prosecutions.

"Our records show we are catching far more people than we did before.”

Cllr Jackie Oakes, Rossendale Council's portfolio holder for operations, said: “As a small authority with fewer resources than larger councils, it can be difficult to witness instances of fly-tipping so we have not issued any ‘on the spot’ fines as we have not caught anyone in the act."

In 2015/16 Burnley had 5,962 fly-tipping incidents; Blackburn with Darwen 3,817; Hyndburn 2,232; Pendle 3,745; Rossendale 800; Ribble Valley 754 and Chorley 886.

In 2015/16 Blackburn with Darwen council successfully prosecuted seven people and Burnley 92 rising to 166 in the following year.

Chorley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale managed just three prosecutions between them in 2014/15.