Is £80 for a dropped cigarette too steep a fine?

More than 100 litterbugs have been slapped with £80 fines for dumping their rubbish on Blackpool's streets in just three weeks.

Wednesday, 14th September 2016, 10:46 am
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 4:37 pm
The 3GS team last month pictured with Coun Gillian Campbell at the launch of the new crackdown

New figures revealed the litter-busting teams from environmental company 3GS have issued more than £8,000 in fines since taking to the resort’s streets last month.

More than 100 fixed £80 fines have been issued since August 24, though Blackpool Council could not provide an exact figure.

The most common offence was the dropping of cigarette ends in Bank Hey Street and Adelaide Street, followed by spitting.

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Blackpool Council isn’t paying 3GS for the work – the company is funded entirely by the amount of fines it issues.

And while some have branded the fines ‘excessive’, Paul Buttivant, managing director of 3GS, today insisted: “We are not vigilantes.”

He said: “We are not there looking for numbers. If our officers see someone littering they will approach them, but we are not an over-zealous company.

“Littering is a criminal offence and we can’t turn a blind eye to that.

“It’s not nice to get a fine but at the same time they are committing a crime and we are there to enforce the law.

“It’s ultimately about changing people’s attitude to their local environment.

“Obviously nobody likes being fined. I hope the fines that have been handed out will encourage people to change.

“We have had only one complaint so far, which was from someone who was fined.”

The ‘litter squads’ form part of the council’s ‘Keep Blackpool Tidy’ campaign to make Blackpool the UK’s cleanest seaside resort by 2020.

They will focus on the town centre and Promenade as part of a 12-month pilot contract with the council – though the service may later be extended to other areas.

Eileen Ormand, Blackpool business district town centre manager, said: “We all want a cleaner town. Cleaning chewing gum off the streets is an expensive business, and picking up cigarette ends is very time consuming.

“This is non-biodegradable waste we’re talking about here.

“It’s a constant battle.

“I think once word gets out about these fines people will now think twice about littering.”

Brian Coope, former chairman of Clean Up Blackpool and vice-chairman of the former Parklands Areas Forum, said he was ‘delighted’ that action is being taken against litterbugs – but added that an £80 fine for a dropped cigarette seemed ‘excessive’.

He said: “I think the fines might be a bit steep – £80 for a cigarette end is a bit much - but certainly fines are the way to go.

“I do think it’s brilliant that Blackpool Council is being proactive in the anti-littering campaign and that they are going about it in the right way.

“I hope that these teams will come further inland and take just as much care of the beautiful areas of Blackpool past the first 100 yards of the Promenade.”

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “When we surveyed the public, they asked for us to get tougher on people dropping litter on the ground, which is what we’re doing.

“The 3GS team are not only handing out fines to people they catch but they are also acting as a visual deterrent to people littering in the town centre and on the Promenade, as well as liaising with town centre businesses to educate them that littering.

“Even if it is just a cigarette end, is against the law.

“In just three weeks they have made tremendous strides and are helping spread the message that it is not acceptable for people to drop any form of litter on the ground.”