|Litter louts set for a ‘fine’ time
Wigan is in the country’s top twenty local authorities for fining litter louts.
At a time when government ministers say they are concerned about how few councils issue fines for environmental crimes, the council's street scene bosses have proved to be no slouches when it comes to hitting litterbugs where it hurts.
Wigan came in 19th position out of more than 350 local authorities after fining 276 locals for illegally dropping their waste - just behind some of the big metropolitan cities. The borough is in the top 5% of authorities nationally for serving fixed penalty litter notices.
Cllr David Molyneux, cabinet member for the environment, says: "It’s a result that gives us mixed feelings. It shows we are serious about keeping the borough clean and that we punish those who don’t. But it also shows that there remains an untidy minority out there who we have to fine."
Government Minister for Local Environmental Quality, Ben Bradshaw, told last week’s Cleaner, Safer, Greener conference in Sheffield: "People will only take litter fines seriously if local authorities take them seriously. We need to look at changing behaviour, through education and campaigns, but where that doesn't work we need strict enforcement of the law."
In Wigan borough, initiatives such as Kick Litter into Touch take the message into schools and community groups, and the council’s street scene team organise dozens of litter picks and local clean-ups with residents. A new fly tipping team has been set up and has taken several local tippers to court.
The council is also issuing fixed penalty notices on householders who leave black bin bags in rear alleys. In January, £50 fixed penalty notices were issued to a number of households in the Leigh area who were not disposing of black bin bags correctly.
These initiatives have seen a dramatic improvement in the local environment over the last few years, measured by satisfaction surveys, and by independent assessors such as Encams (Tidy Britain). But the message from council environment chiefs remains – litter our borough and you run the risk of a strict fine or even a court summons.