Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
No butts - litterbug fag smokers crushed
FOUR people have been slapped with £80 fines for dropping cigarette butts in Worcester as part of a crackdown on litterbugs.
All of them were caught red-handed in the city centre in July, with council chiefs insisting they will not “turn a blind eye” to people flouting the rules.
The city council’s civil enforcement officers have also dished out 15 warnings to people spotted dropping rubbish since the spring.
The four handed fines are the first to have been hit in the pocket since the officers started actively punishing people for littering from April.
Although the authority first adopted powers to fine people for littering in 2011, they vowed to start off with a “softly softly approach” to enforcement at the time.
Councillor Roger Knight, cabinet member for cleaner and greener, said: “We are certainly not turning a blind eye to it – we always said we’d start off with a period of education and encouragement before moving to enforcement.
“Many people have asked us to start doing this, so we are. We’re responding to public demand by handing out fines.
“Eighty pounds is a lot of money, but it doesn’t take much for people to moderate their behaviour so they don’t litter.
“Questions have been asked of us and I’ve seen it reported in the letters page of the newspaper.
“We realise we’ve got to deliver.”
The Government handed town halls powers to fine people up to £80 for littering under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.
In Worcester, the city council allows those punished to pay a fee of £50 if they fork out within 14 days.
Coun Pat Agar, the Labour group’s environmental spokesman, said: “We do need better education in schools on this issue.
“Having said that, I realise it’s not just children but in many cases, adults who litter and for those who refuse to budge, the fines are about right.
“I’m generally in favour of it, and although £80 is a bit excessive, we do need a deterrent.
“Most people hate litter and find it loathsome.”
About 20 tonnes of litter are collected every week from streets and open spaces in Worcester. The annual clean-up costs are about £1.2 million for the city’s taxpayers.
The civil enforcement officers have now been handed bikes so they can get around quicker on patrol.