The cost of dropping rubbish in Blackpool reaches £48k

Above pictured are Robert Hassall, David Brady coun Gillian Campbell, Dean Earnshaw and Thomas Platt. Left, Georgina Hewlitt-Leigh. Right, litter.
Above pictured are Robert Hassall, David Brady coun Gillian Campbell, Dean Earnshaw and Thomas Platt. Left, Georgina Hewlitt-Leigh. Right, litter.

A crackdown on litter louts in Blackpool has seen more than 600 people pay fines totalling at least £48,000 for dropping rubbish.

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A crackdown on litter louts in Blackpool has seen more than 600 people pay fines totalling at least £48,000 for dropping rubbish.

Figures revealed today show more than 900 fixed penalty notices were handed out after the council linked up with a private enforcement company in a bid to clean up the town.

The pilot scheme with 3GS Environmental Solutions has now come to an end, and will not be continued.

Instead it is hoped to set up an in-house enforcement team.

Between August 2016 and May 2017, 930 of the £80 fines were issued, with 605 being paid.

A further 31 offenders have been prosecuted and the status of other fines is being reviewed.

Of those outstanding, some fines have been prosecuted through the courts, some were issued in error and others did not have enough evidence to proceed to prosecution.

The majority of fines were handed out to people dropping cigarettes.

A council report says the link up with 3GS “has not realised or resulted in the benefits envisaged at the outset of the scheme”.

But it adds “there is a role for enforcement of litter and dog fouling environmental crime” and “the way forward will be to set up an in-house service” using the council’s own expertise in street cleansing.

Deputy leader of Blackpool Council Coun Gillian Campbell said: “Blackpool Council working in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy is determined to make the resort the cleanest in the UK by 2020.

“We continue to explore ways of achieving that goal. We agreed to a one year pilot contract in 2016 with 3GS who would work alongside the council’s existing Streetscene team.

“As with any pilot scheme it has been monitored during its operation. The pilot has only just come to an end we are still in the final process of reviewing performance and financial outcomes.

“However, it is likely that although the scheme has not cost the council any money, we will develop the service in-house focusing on littering, dog fouling and fly-tipping as environmental crime will not be tolerated in our community.

“We believe the wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise across our own public protection, street cleaning and legal services in relation to the issuing of FPNs will serve us better.”

Councillors could allocate money from their ward budgets to use the litter enforcement team in their neighbourhoods.

The pilot scheme with 3GS was launched in June 2016 as part of the council’s campaign with Keep Britain Tidy to make the resort the cleanest in the country by 2020. Five enforcers were taken on and targeted the Promenade and town centre, with the power to hand out £80 fines.

The scheme was designed not to cost the council anything, with revenue from the fines to be shared between the council and 3GS.

‘We need to educate people’

Town centre businesses say there is a need to keep the town centre litter free, but did not believe enforcement had worked.

Simon Wrigley, who owns the Coffee Pot in Birley Street and Number 5 cafe in Cedar Square, said: “I think it was a good idea but I haven’t seen a great deal of difference.

“A friend of mine who visited Blackpool recently said he couldn’t believe how much litter there was here.

“I think the solution is to educate young people in school, about being proud of their town and not dropping litter.”

Robert Wynne, whose town centre businesses include West Coast Rock Cafe and the Rose and Crown, said: “The cleaners do a great job, and the town centre is probably more litter free than other parts of the town.

“The issue is Blackpool gets big influxes of people as a tourist town, and it is also so windy.

“I’m not sure whether fining people works better than education or warnings.

“It all goes back to having a bit of pride in your town and not dropping litter.”

‘It was just force of habit’

In July, Blackpool magistrates dished out more than £6,000 in financial penalties in one morning to people who dropped cigarettes ends as part of the council crackdown on littering.

Cases relating to 11 people were dealt with after they were all caught dropping a cigarette end by enforcement officers in the central area of the resort including Bank Hey Street and Adelaide Street West.

The offenders were from Blackpool, Fleetwood and St Annes.

Fines ranged from £80 to £120 with costs of £180 and victims surcharges of between £30 and £44.

Holiday-maker Georgina Hewlitt-Leigh, 50 (pictured) received a fine after she dropped a cigarette butt outside the Yorkshire Building Society on Birley Street.

Georgina, from Somerset, said: “It was just a force of habit.

“I said I was sorry and went to pick it up but he (litter warden) wasn’t having any of it.”