‘SHOCKING’ figures have revealed there have been more than 70,000 fly-tipping incidents in Southampton over the past eight years costing taxpayers more £2m.

The number of fly-tipping incidents in the city has more than doubled in recent years going from 5,569 in the 2014-15 financial year to 11,799 between April 2019 and March 2020, according to figures released by the government and confirmed by Southampton City Council.

The authority revealed that clearing up fly-tipping has cost taxpayers £2,171,850 since 2012 with a total of 72,043 incidents recorded between 2012 and March 2020.

The news comes as last week residents said they have had enough of “disgusting” fly-tippers ruining their communities after broken furniture, old fridges and trolleys crammed full with bin bags were dumped in Marchwood Road.

The city council said the increasing figures are in line with the national trend and stressed it has plans to tackle the issue.

Campaigners warned that a collective effort is needed for the situation to improve. But while opposition city bosses acknowledged the difficulties in tackling fly-tipping, they also said the city council could have done more to avoid the “concerning” figures.

According to the data, the numbers went down between 2012 and 2015. . But a sharp rise was recorded since 2015-16 with the number of incidents going from 8,100 (clearance cost £216,583), to 10,046 in 2016-17 (£308,174), 11,107 incidents in 2017-18 (£299,163) and up to 11,400 cases in 2018-19 (£364,482). Cllr Steve Galton, the environment and transport spokesperson for the Conservative group in the city, said the figures are concerning.

“I am even more disappointed that Labour didn’t listen to me when I raised these concerns and didn’t act sooner because we paid the price for it. They should have done more in the past years,” he said.

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith described the data as shocking and said there should be more severe penalties.

Campaigners said residents should be educated. Lyn Brayshaw, a member of voluntary group CommonSense - which also runs litter picking initiatives across part of Southampton Common - said: “It’s sad that there are so many people out there that feel it’s ok just to dump stuff. People should not need someone else to clear up after them.”

In February the council backed plans to fine litterbugs.

Cllr Jacqui Rayment, cabinet member for transport and place at the city council, said: "The irony is that we were about to introduce a new team to deal with the issues of litter and fly tipping, but it has been paused due to the Covid-19 lockdown measures. The penalties for anyone caught fly tipping are already severe and we always prosecute offenders where we think we have enough evidence to give us a chance of securing a conviction. It’s a shame that Councillor Galton is trying to create an issue out of a problem that is on the increase throughout the country, not just in Southampton."

The city council said there are a number of factors behind the rising figures, including duplication in reporting and the use of smart devices which have allowed quicker and easier reporting by the public. It also stressed that what are classified as fly-tipping incidents may not necessarily be just large scale tipping incidents but could include items being left by recycling banks or outside charity shops. The council said the disposal costs of waste, per tonne, usually increases year on year "so this adds to the increasing cost figures".