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Local News

Massive drop in littering fines handed out in South Yorkshire

today06/04/2021

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South Yorkshire councils handed out half as many littering fines in 2020 as they did in 2019.

Councils across the county issued 6,107 fines last year, compared to 11,560 – a drop of 47 per cent, exclusive figures show.

John Read, founder of Clean Up Britain, said “serious fines and serious enforcement” are needed to tackle littering across the country.

But David Renard, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said councils “work hard” to keep public spaces clean.

To get the latest email updates from South Yorkshire Live, click here.

The figures have been revealed as part of InYourArea.co.uk’s Don’t Trash Our Future campaign – launched in summer last year, it aims to address the epidemic of littering in the UK.

A survey conducted then, of more than 7,500 people, found 85% saw litter as a big or major issue in their area, and almost two-thirds (64%) thought levels got worse as lockdown restriction eased.

Littering is a criminal offence which carries a maximum fine of £2,500 and can be tried in a magistrates’ court.

Councils can issue fines of up to with a fine of up to £100, with discounts for paying quickly, instead of taking people to court. Failure to pay can lead to prosecution.

Clean Up Britain’s Mr Read said £100 fines are “pathetic”.

Councils need to understand that only behavioural change will resolve Britain’s litter epidemic,” he said.

A £100 fine, reduced to £50 if paid in 14 days, is not going to change anyone’s behaviour.

If local areas are to stop being litter-ridden – which most are – then we need serious fines and serious enforcement in this country. We have neither at the moment.”

The biggest drop in fines was came in Rotherham, where the council issued 1,130 penalties in 2020 – a drop of 64 per cent compared to 2019.

The council’s assistant director of community safety Tom Smith said this was because of a “significant decrease in footfall across the borough” due to coronavirus restrictions.

Tackling litter is a key priority for the council and we continue to operate proactive patrols issuing fixed penalty notices and as lockdown lifts we will once again be able to support engagement activities such as community litter picking,” he said.

Meanwhile Sheffield City Council handed out 950 littering fines in 2020 – a 53 per cent drop compared to 2019.

A council spokeswoman also said the number of fines had decreased due to coronavirus lockdowns in 2020.

But it said “simply fining people does not solve the problem” of littering.

We do our very best to keep the city clean, tidy and looking welcoming and attractive, but we need all residents and visitors to take pride in the city and take responsibility for their rubbish,” she said.

It requires behaviour change on a national level and it won’t happen overnight, but we will continue working with local people and partners to make Sheffield a place we are all proud of.”

Last week there was outrage as the city’s Endcliffe Park was left looking like a rubbish tip, with barbecues, carrier bags and drinks strewn across the grass after warm weather and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The mess even prompted one local business to withdraw its student deal, because owners were ‘mortified’ to see their packaging among the litter.

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Across the UK, councils issued at least 138,244 fines in 2020 according to figures obtained by the Reach Data Unit – a decrease of 37 per cent compared to 2019.

The drop in the number of fines also led to a fall in the amount of money collected from fines – down from £11.3 million in 2019 to £7.2 million in 2020.

David Renard, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said councils “work hard” to keep public spaces clean – but the Covid-19 pandemic has “undoubtedly” impacted the number of fines handed out.

“Responsibility for clearing up litter lies with the person dropping it or leaving it behind,” he said.

“The Covid-19 lockdown restrictions over the past year will have undoubtedly impacted the number of these handed out.

“Each council has to decide the best way to tackle litter in their individual communities.

“But whilst we recognise that responses have to be proportionate, measures must be robust enough to tackle abuse of the local environment.”

Read on below to see how many fines your council issued in 2020.

Littering fines issued by South Yorkshire councils:

  • Sheffield City Council: 950 fines issued in 2020, down from 1,989 issued in 2019
  • Rotherham Council: 1,130 fines issued in 2020, down from 3,075 in 2019
  • Barnsley Council: 1,730 issued in 2020, down from 2,786 in 2019
  • Doncaster Council: 2,297 issued in 2020, down from 3,710 in 2019

Since it launched, 56,000 people and counting have signed the petition from InYourArea, Reach PLC titles across the UK and Clean Up Britain urging the government to look at introducing a tougher fixed penalty notice for littering.

InYourArea’s editor-in-chief Ed Walker said: “Throughout lockdown we’ve had so many posts and much anger from our 2million members across the UK about the littering in their community.

“This latest data shows we need to see a tougher penalty which would see councils encouraged to address and police the issue of littering.

“We urge the government to look closer at this issue which many people feel very passionately about across the country.”

Sign the petition and discover more about the campaign at www.donttrashourfuture.co.uk

Written by: Rother Radio News


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