FLY tipping is blighting beauty spots in the Five Valleys and costing taxpayers dearly, according to the vice-chairman of Stroud District Council.

Labour councillor Mark Rees has blasted 'unscrupulous and greedy contractors' who try and make a quick buck by simply dumping their waste rather than disposing of it properly.

The 53-year-old, who represents the Cainscross ward, described the practice as 'socially unacceptable' and called for tradesman guilty of fly-tipping to have more of a 'social conscience'.

With funding for local authorities already squeezed, he said the £15,000 a year SDC spent on clearing up abandoned waste could be better used improving services for residents.

He was speaking after two van loads of hedge and tree cuttings were dumped at the top of Ash Lane on Thursday night (October 18), blocking the road near to the entrance of Standish Woods in Randwick

Cllr Rees, who regularly walks his two dogs in the woods, said: "This kind of behaviour is sickening because the taxpayer is the one who has to bear the cost."

"Cowboy contractors are charging customers to take away their rubbish and then just dumping it so we pick up the tab.

"Everyone you speak to is outraged that this kind of anti-social activity is going on and we need to make clear that it is completely unacceptable."

A self-employed decorator, Cllr Rees also urged members of the public to ask contractors where they intended to dispose of their rubbish.

"Everyone has a part to play in keeping the environment clean and tidy so people should ask where their waste is going," he said.

Fly tipping is illegal and those convicted of it can face up to five years imprisonment, a fine of £50,000, or both.

DEFRA estimates that cleaning up fly tipped rubbish costs all local authorities combined £4 million a month.