Fines increase for litter and smoking in Wolverhampton
Smokers, fly-tippers and litterbugs face bigger fines in Wolverhampton – with the rules changed to include 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time.
Council bosses approved the plan at a meeting last night, with the controversial £22 million revamp of the Civic Centre and its car park also getting the nod.
At the moment, people who drop litter, smoke in the workplace, fly-tip or let their dogs foul in public places are given a £70 penalty that reduces to £50 if paid early.
However, under the new rules, anyone caught will be hit with a flat fine of £75, which will also apply to teenagers as young as 16 for the first time ever.
Kingdom Security will carry out environmental enforcement work on behalf of the council from August 1.
Quite apart from the blatant lack of respect shown to fellow citizens, it costs taxpayers money to have it removed.
It is entirely right that those prepared to spread their rubbish, allow their dogs to foul and leave it behind or who drop cigarette butts are caught and fined.
And there is also little that we can see wrong with extending this to 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time.
At this age they are old to enough to join the army or even to get married with their parents' consent.
Therefore they are perfectly capable of understanding the consequences of their behaviour.
A £75 fine is hefty.
But an example has to be set.
Those in full time education will find that the fine hits their pockets far more than it would someone in a full time job.
Some might even argue that it will end up falling to their parents to have to help them out.
Good, we say.
Parents of litter louts must share the blame for having failed to instil basic respect and decency in their offspring.
The sort of slobs who think nothing of dropping cans, packets and more on the streets are not going to learn a lesson unless it is accompanied by a punishment that makes them think again.
And if a teenager is forced to rely upon the bank of mum and dad to pay their debt to society, then their parents will also hopefully learn a valuable lesson about the importance of teaching civic pride.
There are people working very hard to try to revive the fortunes of Wolverhampton – and indeed the wider Black Country.
And while we will all have our opinions on what schemes, initiatives, revamps and incentives work and do not work, it is everyone's responsibility to look after their streets.
That means treating the town and city centres the way we would want someone to treat our own homes.
We hope that this fine becomes a deterrent and make the streets a better place to be.
What must not happen is for the council to allow it to become another exercise in top-heavy bureaucracy.
There must be no pushing paperwork around and waiting for fines that will never be paid.
No-one wants their street to be little more than an enormous bin.
Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for the environment, said: "We cannot have a situation where selfish people who litter our city, fly-tip and don't pick up after their dogs feel they can do so with impunity.
"Unfortunately, Government cuts in recent years have led to job losses which have meant we have been unable to deliver the level of enforcement activity which people expect. We know that our residents and businesses want something done to tackle the litter critters out there and this is why we've come up with the creative solution of working with a private sector partner who will issue fines to perpetrators on our behalf on a trial basis.
"It will be paid for by the company, Kingdom Security, keeping a share of the income generated through fines. The remainder will be invested into tackling environmental crime and issues in Wolverhampton."
As part of the deal, the council will pay Kingdom Security £45 per notice issued and keep £30 for itself. It is expected that 10 to 15 on-the-spot fines will be dished out each day.
There will be an initial trial period of 12 months, with the whole scheme reviewed after three months and a 28-day walk away agreement built into the contract.
At the same meeting, the refurbishment of the Civic Centre and car park was also rubber-stamped by councillors.
Three floors of the council HQ will be overhauled, which bosses say is essential so that the building can remain operational.
The work will force the closure of the 380-space car park in Wulfruna Street for up to a year. But the scheme has been slammed by critics, who describe the £22m sum as 'disgraceful' and claim the decision has 'all the hallmarks of a vanity project'.
All decisions will go before full council at a later date.
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