Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: the councils failing to crack down on litter louts

By Adrian Rutherford

A postcode lottery means litter louts are escaping punishment in some parts of Northern Ireland — despite our streets being dirtier than at any time in the past four years.

Almost a quarter of councils issued less than one fixed penalty a month for littering in the past year, figures obtained by this newspaper have revealed.

Two councils — Ballymoney and Limavady — handed out just six penalties in that period.

Yet other local authorities are taking a tougher stance against litter louts, with Belfast and Craigavon both issuing in excess of 1,000 penalties.

It has prompted calls for councils to take a tougher stance on litter louts.

The figures were obtained by the Belfast Telegraph from the Department of the Environment and come just weeks after a survey highlighted a growing problem with discarded rubbish.

Despite millions of pounds being spent by councils on clean-ups, Tidy NI found that litter had increased with around 14% of streets failing to meet basic cleanliness standards.

It is estimated the bill for cleaning up our rubbish-strewn streets is £34m a year — equivalent to £50 for each household in Northern Ireland.

In the 12 months to April 3, 930 fixed-penalty notices were handed out to litter louts.

Belfast City Council issued the highest number of fines — 1,995, which is equivalent to nearly six every day.

That contrasted with Ballymoney and Limavady councils, which each issued six in the whole year.

Moyle and Ards both handed out just seven, while North Down Council only issued eight. Each of the councils insisted they took littering very seriously when contacted by this newspaper. However, Green Party MLA Steven Agnew said councils and the public needed to take the issue more seriously.

“The millions of pounds it costs to clear it up every year could be better spent in areas like health and education,” he said.

“Councils need to start imposing more fines and letting the public know that they will be fined a significant amount of money if they drop litter,” he said.

Factfile

Strictest local authorities:

  • Belfast: 1,995 fines
  • Craigavon: 1,038 fines
  • Newry and Mourne: 167 fines
  • Lisburn: 80 fines
  • Ballymena: 73 fines
  • Larne: 73 fines


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