Council Cracks Down On Litter Louts In Fort William

The Highland Council is actively pursuing people who drop litter in the centre of Fort William in a campaign to keep the Outdoor Capital of the U.K. clean and tidy.
From the Parade to the West End, four news signs have been erected which state that: “People who carelessly discard litter in any open place are committing a criminal offence under the  Environment protection act 1990, section 87”.
The signs also explain that: “Throwing litter from vehicles onto public land is also a littering offence under section 87 of the same act. The term “litter” includes: wrappers, cans, bottles or packaging, food remains, receipts and tickets, sweet wrappings, chewing gum and all smoking related materials”.
In Fort William, The Highland Council has ten officers to issue fixed penalty notices and they are patrolling the Parade to the West End area supported by Northern Constabulary.
Mike Leary, The Highland Council’s Community Works Manager for Lochaber said: “We have lately received a lot of criticism about discarded cigarette ends, broken glass and chewing gum in the High Street which we find very difficult to clean. We will be patrolling this area over the coming weeks so that people get the message that they are actually breaking the law by throwing their litter away – even cigarette ends.

“We have already issued two fixed penalty notices – one to a local driver who dropped a cigarette end on the ground out of “force of habit ” - and another to a local person for dumping bagged rubbish in the street because they wouldn’t wait for the weekly collection service to turn up at their home. The second person was brought to the Council’s attention by several locals who phoned in offering to make statements.  I would like to encourage more people to come forward and report events like these, because we will take action.  If people are happy to make a complaint and will also make statements that support the complaint, with as much corroboration as possible, the Council will pursue the matter.

“The aim of this crackdown, however, is not to fine people. The aim is to ‘break the habit’ and stop people from discarding their litter. What we want to do is raise the profile of this crackdown so that people think twice and put their litter in the bin – or take it home.

“We are also trying to raise awareness among the public that it is their Council Tax contributions that are being used to clear up other peoples’ rubbish.  If people didn’t throw rubbish in the street, the Council would be able to concentrate its efforts in other ways.

“We have the full backing of Northern Constabulary in this initiative and CCTV cameras are being used as back up to support the crack down. Members of the public should be aware that if they are stopped by a Highland Council authorised officer and asked to pick up litter that they have dropped, they will receive a fixed penalty notice of £50 if they do not pick it up. When approached by an authorised Council officer, members of the public should not consider giving a false name and address as this is an offence in itself.”
Local Highland Councillor Brian Murphy said: “We are taking this action in response to the many complaints we have received from the public about litter, especially since the introduction of the smoking ban in enclosed public spaces. For some reason smokers don’t seem to understand that cigarette ends, spent matches, cigarette packets and cellophane wrappers are litter. But its not just smokers we are after, there are lots of non-smokers who seem to think its OK to drop their litter at their feet with no thought given to the consequences. The same people will probably complain about Council Tax increases, without making the connection between that and their own actions. So this campaign is about educating people to think about changing their behaviour in order to make our town a better place for everyone.”
Councillor Neil Clark added: “Fort William is blighted by all kinds of litter and for the benefit of the local community and visitors to our town, we really have to make a serious effort to crack down on the offenders. Ours is a beautiful part of the world and we owe it to everyone to ensure that it stays that way.”
Fixed penalty notices can be paid at Highland Council Service Points or by post. If they are not paid within 28 days then the fine doubles and if they don’t pay after that then the Procurator Fiscal is notified.

The Highland Council will be rolling the litter crack-down campaign out to other parts of Lochaber as resources permit and particular problem areas are identified and evaluated. Other areas that the Council is focussing on are dog fouling, fly tipping and identifying those responsible for the abandoning of vehicles – all of which are finable offences.

28 Aug 2006