FLY-TIPPERS and vandals could be given free reign of Colchester, it is feared.

New law means Colchester Council is no longer allowed to use secret surveillance to catch people fly-tipping, destroying property or painting graffiti without getting a court order.

Colchester councillors had hoped not to publicise the change, for fear of giving perpetrators free reign across the borough.

But after Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell brought the subject up in Parliament on Tuesday, Tim Young, borough councillor responsible for community safety, has accused him of blowing the council’s cover.

“We are now seriously looking at an outbreak in Colchester,” said Mr Young.

“And if that is the case, I will be very happy to send Sir Bob the bill for cleaning it up.”

But Sir Bob said: “It is an Act of Parliament.

“I don’t think they could keep that under wraps. It is hardly a state secret.”

Essex Police is still permitted to use the covert cameras to catch fly-tippers and graffiti artists.