Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Hefty fine for cigarette litter man

A smoker has been fined 560 pounds for throwing away a cigarette butt in the street

A smoker caught throwing away a cigarette butt in the street will have to cough up £560 after failing to pay a much smaller fine.

Gethin Richards, 30, discarded the remains of a cigarette as he approached a street ATM to get out some cash.

His casual flouting of the litter laws proved costly when he was slapped with a £75 fixed penalty fine.

Richards, of Clydach Vale, Tonypandy - in the south Wales valleys, was caught by a passing Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council enforcement officer in Cowbridge Road, Pontyclun, in October last year.

Richards could still have saved himself almost £500 if he had paid off the fine within a fortnight, but failed to do so.

When his case was referred to Pontypridd Magistrates' Court, he also failed to attend and was found guilty in his absence. As a result he was fined £400 and ordered to pay both £120 costs and a £40 victim surcharge, a combined total of £560. He was prosecuted under the Environmental Protection Act, Section 87, for discarding a cigarette butt onto the public highway.

After the case a council spokesman warned there will be no let up in its on-going crackdown on what it describes as "eco-crime". The hardline valleys council has recovered £43,950 since April 2012 from enforcing 586 fixed penalty notices.

All cash recovered - for everything from dog fouling to fly tipping and littering - is ploughed back into frontline services.

"Littering of any kind is illegal and is a common problem throughout the area of Rhondda Cynon Taf," said Nigel Wheeler, council streetcare service director. "This can have a detrimental impact on the environment and residents overall wellbeing, We all have a right to live in a clean, green environment and the council is committed to ensuring that those who jeopardise this with thoughtless acts will face the consequences.

"As well as creating unsightly environmental conditions, the clean up costs leave a financial burden on the local authority and the taxpayer."