Woking Borough Council is working in partnership with private company, Kingdom, to target litter bugs by increasing visible patrols within Woking Town Centre, village centres and parks. Although the campaign focuses on items of smoking related litter, such as cigarette packets and butts, matches and silver foils, Kingdom will also have powers to serve Fixed Penalty Notices for other environmental offences, such as dropping any type of litter, smoke free offences and dog fouling. Anyone spotted dropping litter will receive an on-the-stop Fixing Penalty Notice (FPN) and fined £75 or face prosecution, which carries a maximum fine of £2,500 if convicted in a Magistrates’ Court. The fine must be paid within 14 days, reduced to £50 if paid within 10 days.
In the first three weeks of the initiative over 200 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued.
Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environmental Control, said: “In recent years there has been significant investment in Woking Town Centre to create a clean and welcoming environment for shoppers and visitors to the town. So it is disappointing that far too many people think it’s alright to dispose of their litter on the ground, which is evident from the number of visitors who continue to be identified by this initiative.
“While the number of Fixing Penalty Notices issued is significant, we are clear we want to educate and encourage change when it comes to dropping litter. Where deemed appropriate, especially when dealing with young people and vulnerable adults, we have issued warnings or written to parents explaining what they had done wrong and the potential penalty to help positively change behaviour.
“The disposal of litter from our streets costs councils thousands of pounds each year and spoils our local environment. So the message is simple. Litter is everyone’s responsibility.”
The initiative is part of the Council’s ‘change the norm’ campaign that focuses on changing people’s attitudes towards dropping litter, especially cigarette butts and other smoking related litter. The first phase of the initiative, which began in October, focused on educating visitors who dropped litter. Instead of a Fixed Penalty Notice, litter bugs were given a football-style ‘yellow card’ explaining what they had done wrong and the potential penalty to help positively change habits.