Headlines: November 3rd, 2006

LITTER LEVELS FALL AS USE OF FIXED FINES RISES

 

The amount of litter on England’s streets has fallen to a five-year low as more and more local authorities use their powers to impose fixed penalty fines on those who drop rubbish. The figures, in the Local Environmental Quality Survey of England, come as councils are considering shock tactics to draw attention to the problem of litter.

The latest data from the annual survey shows that litter levels have fallen by 5 per cent and that at the same time there has been a 45 per cent rise in the number of local authorities issuing fines for litter and improvements in the collection rate for fines. Although the survey shows a reduction in litter across types of areas, it does reveal a significant decline in detritus standards for two of the land use classes – rural roads and other highways, where there may be places that are harder to clean.

On fixed penalties the survey shows the number of notices issued by local councils between April 2005 and March 2006 increased by 31 per cent to 38,062 compared with the year before. The payment rate of fines has gone up from 53 per cent to 57 per cent across the same period.

Local Environment Quality Minister, Ben Bradshaw, said “I’m also really pleased to say the number of local authorities using the fixed penalty notice system to tackle littering has increased from 136 in 2004-05 to 197 in 2005-06 an increase of 45 per cent. He was concerned, though, that in 22 per cent of local authority areas fewer than half of fines were being collected. To continue to accept poor payment rates sent a signal, he said, that an authority was not taking enforcement seriously and that those that did not pay had nothing to fear. Overall, though, the clear message was that those who committed environmental crimes had a better chance than ever of being caught and being issued with a fixed penalty or finding themselves in a magistrates’ court answering a charge.

The new figures follow warnings this week from the Local Government that council leaders were investigating ways in which people could be made aware of the scale of street littering. One option, the LGA said, was to suspend street sweeping services for 24 hours in a given area to highlight how much litter was dropped in a single day.