Fines increase for litter, bad parking and putting waste in the wrong bin
FINES for dropping litter in South Gloucestershire are set to double to the maximum level allowed.
Council cabinet members are being advised to increase fixed penalty notices from £75 to £150.
There will be a 50 per cent discount for anyone who pays within 10 days.
But despite the proposed hard-line approach, the council says it focuses more on educating people than on enforcement, issuing just 11 notices in 2018 for offences including dog-fouling and dropping rubbish.
The officer recommendations include an automatic increase in line with any future rises announced by the Government in the maximum fines that local authorities can charge people for littering.
Graffiti and fly-posting will also carry a £150 fixed penalty notice under the new policy, which is due to be agreed by the council’s cabinet next Monday.
The maximum permitted level of fines will be extended for other local environment offences, including putting household waste in the wrong bin (£80), nuisance parking (£100) and abandoning a vehicle (£200), with each carrying a prompt-payment fee reduction.
The charges are an alternative to prosecution, although anybody handed one can challenge the notice in magistrates’ court.
At present, anyone caught littering in South Gloucestershire is charged £75, with a reduced payment of £50 within 10 days.
A report to cabinet says extra money from the higher fines could pay for a dedicated council officer on the street to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs).
It says: “Increasing the amount charged for FPNs would open more options with regards to tackling environmental offences in South Gloucestershire.
“There is the potential that with increased fines we could fund an officer being set up on the street with the specific job of issuing FPNs for environmental offences.
“Littering has long been an issue of concern.
“The Litter Strategy for England 2017 quotes 28 to 30 per cent of people perceive ‘litter and rubbish lying around’ to be a problem in their area.
“In 2016 the RSPCA received over 5,000 phone calls about litter-related incidents affecting animals.
“In 2018 the council’s Viewpoint survey showed 38 per cent of residents believe litter and rubbish lying around is a ‘fairly big’ or a ‘very big’ issue in their local area.
“A survey carried out in 2010 by Keep Britain Tidy revealed that one in five people admitted littering.
“In 2018/19, nine per cent of inspected areas in South Gloucestershire were determined to have unacceptable levels of litter.
“In February 2019 the Town and Parish Council Forum identified littering as an issue they want South Gloucestershire Council to address.
“The council incurs costs in clearing litter, graffiti and fly-posting, and using traffic management to clear litter from the public highway and associated land.
“This work also places staff at risk while clearing such litter.
“Litter and other environmental quality issues significantly influence the perceptions of the local area for residents, communities and businesses.
“Adoption and proactive implementation of increased fines would help tackle these issues.”
Bath & North East Somerset Council has already adopted the maximum £150 fine for dropping rubbish.
In March, South Gloucestershire Council became the first local authority outside London to introduce a £150 fixed penalty notice for motorists littering from car windows.
Fines for dog fouling are not included in the report to be considered by cabinet on Monday because they have already been increased to the maximum level under different rules.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service