Offenders who refuse to pay £80 on-the-spot fines for dropping their rubbish on the floor are being taken to court – but some accuse the council enforcement teams of heavy-handedness. Tony McDonough reports
After a visit to Liverpool more than 20 years ago American author Bill Bryson wrote he thought the city was holding a “festival of litter” – now the city council is hitting offenders hard in the pocket.
Litterbugs in the city who refuse to pay £80 on-the-spot fines for dropping their rubbish on the floor are being taken to court and hit with bills of more than £300.
In March the city council hired private firm Kingdom to send 14-strong team of enforcement officers onto the streets to issue penalty notices to offenders.
The majority of people pay up but some refuse and are taken to court and offenders include both city residents and visitors from as far afield as London, Worthing and the Isle of Man.
However, members of the public have also accused the enforcement teams of heavy-handedness and intimidatory tactics.
Last week it was reported that retired nurse Maria McCann, herself a prominent anti-litter campaigner, was “chased” into the Adelphi Hotel by an Kingdom enforcement officer and accused of dropping a cigarette – even though she has never smoked.
However, the city council insists its “zero tolerance” strategy is the correct one.
Councillor Steve Munby, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “Our residents deserve to live in a clean and green environment and not have it trashed by people who think it is someone else’s responsibility to clear up their mess.”
At a hearing at Liverpool Magistrates on Tuesday, August 15, 23 people were found guilty in their absence following evidence presented to the court by the city council.
They were fined £150 plus £125 costs and an additional £30 victim surcharge, bringing their total liability to £305 each.
One other person pleaded guilty and was fined £100 plus £70 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
All of the cases for the 14 men and 10 women relate to dropped cigarettes, with most of the offences taking place in the city centre, as well as Norris Green and Old Swan.
Cllr Munby added: “I hope this court case sends out a strong message that it is far better to pay the fine, rather than simply ignoring it and hoping we will go away.
“There will be more hearings in the coming months. Our clear message to people is that dropping litter is anti-social behaviour and blights communities.”