£3.3k fines imposed on Wolverhampton's litter-lout smokers
Thirty nine litter louts will have to pay up to £3,367 for dropping cigarette ends in Wolverhampton.
They were all due to appear before city magistrates, but only three appeared at the hearing. They all admitted littering.
They were told to pay between £145 and £367 in fines and costs after failing to pay an initial on-the-spot £75 penalty handed out in August and September last year.
Stephen Kuck, aged 44, of Park Avenue, Wombourne, a landscape gardener, attended the hearing after dropping a cigarette end outside the Mander Centre car park in September last year.
He said he was unable to pay the fine in full as his income was unpredictable and he was caring for his wife who had been in a car accident and his daughter who attends special school. He said: "We are a family just doing our best to survive."
Mr Kuck was told to pay the £75 fine as well as £50 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
Stefan Kesel, aged 40, of Fisher Street, Wolverhampton, was accompanied by a translator, and said he had been unable to pay the fine due to not being able to understand the notice given to him by the environmental enforcement officer in August last year. He is also in receipt of benefits.
He was told to pay the £75 fine plus £125 court costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
Denisa Holanova, aged 30,of Dubbing Road, Wolverhampton, also attended with an interpreter and was also on benefits.
She was told to pay the £75 plus £125 costs and the £20 victim surcharge.
Those who did not appear at their hearings were told to pay between £365 and £367, including fines and costs, in their absence and given 28 days to pay.
The court heard that littering was an ongoing concern in the city and the council spent £2.5 million a year on keeping the streets clean, including around £1m on collecting cigarette ends.
Wolverhampton council began a crackdown on littering, particularly the dropping of cigarette ends, in July last year. This changed the amount of the issued fines from £70, which would reduce to £50 if paid early, to a flat, fixed £75 fine.
By mid-August, the amount collected by the council was £30,075 in penalties with 401 fixed penalty notices issued. Forty fines were dished out in the first ten days of the scheme and 3420 fines have been issued in total so far since the scheme began.
Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment, said: "Dropping litter is a lazy, selfish and anti-social act and Wolverhampton residents have made it abundantly clear that they want us to tackle it.
"We know from the overwhelmingly positive response on social media to the arrival of our enforcement teams that people support our tough stance on litter.
"People who drop their rubbish on the floor face the very real risk of being caught and fined and if they don't pay their fine we will take them to court as a last resort.
"We are working to create a cleaner, greener, better Wolverhampton and litter is not welcome."
Kingdom security, which works with hundreds of councils across the UK to enforce the penalties, receives £45 of each of the fines, with the council retaining £30.
A further 40 cases of cigarette littering will be heard on February 3.
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