FLYTIPPING has rocketed in Swindon during lockdown.

The borough's household recycling centre has been closed for weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic and reports of illegally-dumped waste are up by a third.

Incidents include a pile pictured by the Adver at Priors Hill, which included various plastic and cardboard boxes, road barriers, garden chairs and bins.

The sharp rise was revealed after local government secretary Robert Jenrick suggested councils should aim to reopen tips in a bid to combat the problem.

But Swindon Borough Council says the closure of its Waterside Park facility does not explain away the increase – much of the rubbish thrown in the street or on verges is still being collected by the local authority. It is mostly either household waste that can be put in normal bins or bulky items, which can be collected for a fee.

Cabinet member for transport and the environment Maureen Penny said: “We received 185 reports of fly-tipping for the three-week period after the recycling centre was closed, an increase of 34 per cent (on the three weeks before).

“What is particularly disappointing is that many of the fly-tipping incidents involve black bag rubbish and bulky waste, which are two services we have kept running during the lockdown period and are unaffected by the closure of the recycling centre.

“There really is no excuse for people dumping their rubbish in this way. It costs time and money to clear up and is a blight on local neighbourhoods. Our staff are working their socks off trying to keep priority waste services going without having to worry about dealing with the selfish behaviour of a minority of people.

“That said, there were 233 cases reported during the same date period last year so, despite the recent increase, flytipping figures are still below previous levels."

Coun Penny said the council was looking at how to reopen Waterside Park to the public but is asking for more guidance on the enforcement of social distancing rules from Whitehall

She added: “We are still waiting for the official government guidance on the opening of household recycling centres.

"Reopening the recycling centre will not be an easy task and we need to ensure it is done safely and that we adhere to the strict social distancing guidelines.

“It is likely that when we do open it, there will be a partial opening and residents can expect significant changes at the site in order to keep staff and residents safe.

"Plans are still being drawn up and we will share these with residents as soon as they are finalised.”

Speaking in his role as environment spokesman at the Local Government Association – the union for councils nationwide – council leader David Renard said authorities wanted to reopen sites as soon as practicable.

He added councils needed clarity on whether waste site trips were essential, wants police assistance to manage a high level of customer demand after more than a month of closure and says PPE would be required for staff.

The council charges £28.70 for booked collections of bulky waste items such as used fridges, sofas or tables, but that fee covers up to three items.

A list of what can and can’t be collected, and in what combination is available at