Fines warning after smokers spotted using bins to stub out
Smokers in Wednesfield High Street are running the risk of being hit with on-the-spot fines for putting cigarettes out on bins after claims it has no ashtrays.
Shop owners say they have witnessed shoppers being caught by litter wardens and handed an immediate fixed penalty of £75, after stubbing out cigarettes which have then blown onto the pavement.
Jesse Croot, owner of the Village Pet Shop, said the High Street previously had several designated cigarette butt disposal points that were separate to the litter bins.
However, these had plastic trays on top that were melting under the heat of cigarettes being extinguished and had been removed by the council for safety reasons, he said.
He said: “These ashtrays were like little bollards and stood on their own away from the bins. But because of the plastic tops they were not very safe and so got taken away.
“We did ask for some new ones but unfortunately never heard anything back. A lot of people smoke and they don’t know where it’s safe to put their cigarettes out.
“One of the other traders saw a woman put her fag out on top of one of the bins and the wind blew it off, and a litter warden was there at the time who told her it was littering and gave her a fine.
“I’m not a smoker myself, but it’s a bit like entrapment almost, because if you put a cigarette out and then drop it in the bin and it’s still smouldering, then you run the risk of starting a fire.
“There has been a couple of very minor bin fires since the ashtrays went. Bilston has got bins with metal mesh ashtrays built into the tops and we could ideally do with some of them.
“When the litter wardens come along it’s an easy nick for them. We’ve asked for replacements, and the local councillors have also asked on our behalf, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Wednesfield South Councillor Greg Brackenridge, who is also chairman of the West Midlands Fire Authority, said: “I am unaware of any bin fires in the High Street.
“I have been informed by a business owner that there were incidents involving the cigarette posts that were in the High Street that were plastic and were catching fire. These were removed at the request of the business owner.
“The current bins are metal and sturdy. Smokers can extinguish cigarettes and dispose of them safely without the risk of fire. If anybody disposes of any litter on the street or public land they are at risk of a fine.
“Individuals are responsible for their litter. I will speak again to officers to see what response I can get regarding specific bins for cigarettes.”
Councillor Steve Evans, Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for city environment, added: “Dropped cigarette butts are one of most common forms of littering.
“Smokers are responsible for disposing of their cigarettes butts safely and appropriately. As long as residents and visitors dispose of their cigarette ends and their litter correctly, they will not be fined.
“We are in the process of replacing any faulty or damaged bins in Wednesfield High Street with new bins that include the ashtray facility.”