Doncaster national capital for litter fines
Between April and October this year, 3,548 fixed penalty notices were dished out in the borough more than 700 more than the second highest in the country, which was Leeds.
The figures come at a time when the Free Press is campaigning to keep the borough's streets clean, and come after the council was given powers to fine people who litter from their cars as well as those who drop rubbish as they walk.
The figures were published after 180 councils responded to a freedom of information request following the introduction of a Government anti-littering strategy, which allows councils to fine vehicle owners of litter is thrown from the vehicle.
Doncaster Council said the figures reflected a 'zero tolerance approach on letter - but some are concerned at the number of fines, with one young mum telling how she won an appeal after being fined for litter near the station - when she was actually at a hospital appointment.
Tracey Harwood, Head of Regulation and Enforcement at the council said: “These figures don’t necessarily mean that we have the worst litter problem in the UK – we think that they actually reflect the success we are having in giving out fines to those people who spoil our communities with litter.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to environmental crime, and work extremely hard to make Doncaster a cleaner, greener and more pleasant place to live, work and visit. The high number of fines we have issued for littering emphasizes that we are taking this important issue incredibly seriously and will not allow individuals to spoil Doncaster for everyone.
“As well as this, we have powers that other authorities in the UK don’t have – for example, we are one of the only councils in the UK that has the ability to issue fines for throwing litter from a moving vehicle. By using powers like this, the number of fines we’ve issued has obviously increased and more people are getting the message that littering won’t be tolerated.”
Doncaster saw the number of fines it issues rise after it set up a deal with the private firm Kingdom. Kingdom staff gather evidence of environmental crimes, and send it to Doncaster Council officers. It is then up to council officers to decide whether a Fixed Penalty Notice will be issued.
Car rental firm Leasing Options claim their research shows one in three motorists admitted to throwing litter out of their vehicles.
Action is also being carried out in the borough to tidy the streets, with the most recent action day held last week in Bentley.
Coun Joe Blackham, Cabinet member for Regeneration and Transportation, said: “I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers who came to our This is my Doncaster Bentley action day, planting bulbs in the park and helping our staff to pick up litter. We carried out a lot of good work together and left Bentley looking a lot tidier. Now it’s up to local people to keep it that way by being responsible with their rubbish and respectful of their town.”
*The top five areas issuing fines from April to October 2017 according to the FOI requests were: Doncaster 3,548; Leeds: 2,793; Birmingham 2,234; Brent (London borough) 1,316; Coventry 532
Mum won appeal over mistaken identity
Doncaster mum Annie Lake says she was hit with a littering fine - even though she was having an antenatal appointment at the time.
Annie, aged 20, of Cantley, said she successfully appealed a litter fine after she had been accused of dropping a cigarette end to the floor outside Doncaster Station.
But she told how officials agreed to ditch the fine after she showed them that she had been at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary for a scan at the time when she was alleged to have been littering.
She said: "I think it is good that they give out fines but they have to be correct.
"I was given a fine when I was at a clinic when I was pregnant. I got a letter through saying I had littered outside the train station. I won my appeal by showing my appointment card. I think someone must have given them my name and address.
"When I got the letter, I came into the room crying - I was going through a lot at the time and I was pregnant and hormonal. I think they would be better off catching drugs dealers."
Annie's mum, Sarah Lake, 49, also of Cantley added: "It felt like they were being a bit gung-ho about how they were handing out fines. I think it's important that the streets are kept tidy, but they need to get it right and make sure they have the right proof of identity."
Shirley Skelley, aged 57, who lives in Thurnscoe but works in Doncaster town centre, said she had also been fined for throwing down a cigarette end. She said there had been no bins in the area when she dropped the litter.
She said: "I got fined, and I think those figures suggest they are giving too many fines. They seem to be fining everyone and I'm not sure it it deters people."
But Sarah Fisher, aged 28, of Rossington, said she thought the fines were a powerful deterrent to people dropping litter.
She was also fined for littering, after dropping a cigarette end down a drain near Doncaster railway station.
She said: "I agree with fines, but I'm not sure it is helping in that you still see kids dropping litter every day.
"I got fined, and it has certainly deterred me and taught me a lesson, because it cost me Â£75. But I don't think I would support fining parents if their children dropped litter."