AFTER a month of dishing out yellow warning cards to litterbugs, Woking Borough Council will be introducing new patrols next month to issue fines to anyone caught in the act.
It seems the biggest culprits are smokers – apparently 40 per cent of litter nationally is fag butts. Councillor Colin Kemp told the News & Mail: “I was lunching at Café Rouge in Woking town centre and noticed people approaching the Peacocks throwing their cigarette butts on the ground, even though there are receptacles nearby.
“A man from Serco was then walking around picking up after them. The council spend £1 million a year on street cleaning – why should taxpayers fork out for this service?
“I thought this resource and money could be put to better use. I found a company that does litter patrol at zero cost to the council, so I put a motion forward.
“This dovetailed with a healthy living scheme that officer Janine Knighton had been putting together. ”
Under the slogan ‘You butt in, we will butt out’, Janine’s campaign aims to teach people that cigarette butts are litter and that it is an offence to throw them on the ground, while at the same time trying to help smokers give up.
Cllr Kemp added: “This month (October) officers have suspended fines and are instead issuing yellow cards. They are also encouraging businesses to join in the campaign and we are giving out portable ashtrays.
“In November two uniformed officers from Kingdom Environmental will be issuing fines of £75 in the town centre, reduced to £50 if paid within the month.
“If the culprits join a no-smoking campaign and give up for four weeks, we will give them £50 of Boots vouchers. The council will not make any money from this.”
Portfolio Holder for Environmental Control, Beryl Hunwicks, said: “We need to help people ‘change the norm’ and bin their smoking-related litter. This campaign also encourages people to stop smoking. If they can’t manage that, at least they’ll know how to dispose of their cigarette butts.”
Kingdom Environmental officers will be wearing body cameras to activate when taking statements as evidence and to make sure they are not over-zealous and are using their powers correctly.
Cllr Kemp added: “BBC Radio Surrey and other councils will be keeping an eye on what we do to see if the initiative is successful.”