Sutton Council litter cops to dish out £80 fines for dropping cigarettes or chewing gum
You could be fined £80 for dropping chewing gum or a cigarette butt if you are spotted by one of Sutton's new litter cops.
Sutton Council has employed extra staff to deal with litter louts as it tries to cut the 11 tonnes of rubbish discarded on the borough's streets every single day - a problem that costs the Sutton taxpayer £4m each year.
Enforcement officer Chris Christofis educates a litter lout
The two new members of staff will join existing workers in patrolling the streets in litter hotspots and handing out fines to people who drop rubbish and then refuse to pick it up.
The council said it the campaign is more about educating people than penalising them and has pledged that the litter cops are not going to be working on commission and will give anyone who drops waste a chance to pick it up.
Enforcement officer Chris Christofis is one of the workers who will be handing out the fines. He said: "It's about education.
"The emphasis in on making people aware that it is illegal to drop litter and making people feel better about their environment.
"The behaviour of someone dropping litter without a care is indicative of them not caring about the environment. If we can educate them it will hopefully stop that behaviour.
"We will go up to people, ask them if they realise what they did. We will then give them the opportunity to pick their rubbish up and if they don't then they will be given a fixed penalty of £80
"Usually people accept what they've done but it's the people who you don't expect it from who can be the hardest to deal with.
"It's often people who drop cigarette butts. Sometimes they think they've got a right to drop them and they will say things like 'what am I paying you for?'."
The campaign is to run for six months and also includes the installation of 200 new bins around the borough.
It is being launched today and to mark the occasion Sutton Council has built an 11 tonne litter mountain in the town centre to illustrate the scale of the problem.
Councillor Jill Whitehead chairwoman of Sutton's environment and neighbourhoods committee, said: "The mountain of litter we have created in our High Street today really brings home just how much litter that is, and how disgusting it is that it ends up on our streets and not in bins.
"By educating people about the consequences of dropping litter, including thinking about what £4m could be better spent on, they can help the council to make savings and make Sutton look even better in the process."
Coun Tony Shields added: "I hope the message gets out that dropping litter on the street is not going to go without challenge any more."
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