Council accused of targeting smokers as over 900 fines are issued for littering offences
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Denbighshire County Council has been accused of making tens of thousands of pounds of profit by targeting smokers discarding cigarette butts at A55 service stations.
The council employs District Enforcement to issue fixed penalty notices for offences such as general littering, dog fouling, and smoking offences.
But whilst dog fouling remains high on residents’ priority lists, only two fixed penalty notices were given for dog fouling in 2021; both went unpaid. Forty-three £100 fines were given to dog owners entering dog exclusion zones. Another dog owner was fined for not putting a dog on a lead, but this also went unpaid.
This compares to 84% of fines being for smoking-related offences.
From 944 fixed penalty fines issued in 2021, 824 were £75 fines handed out for dropping cigarette butts or discarded hand-rolled cigarettes. A further 48 offences were for smoking in smoke-free vehicles or areas. There was one other instance of a person fined for irresponsibly discarding a cigar.
The total amount recovered in fixed penalty notices for littering offences in 2021 is £56,420 – as many fines remain unpaid.
Hundreds of the fixed penalty notices were given out on the A55 and its service stations around Bodelwyddan. Due to each fine being recorded differently, it’s not possible to give a complete breakdown of locations but hundreds of fines were handed out at expressway services.
Some of the hotspots were recorded as A55 services Bodelwyddan; A55 Services West Bodelwyddan; Kimmel Services Bodelwyddan; Kinmel Services West Bodelwyddan; Marble Church Bodelwyddan; and Services Bodelwyddan.
The information came from an application to Denbighshire County Council under the freedom of information act.
One councillor slammed fixed penalty notices as a money-making scheme. The councillor’s identity can’t be revealed, due to the current pre-election period.
They said: “It is quite clear from the data that (the council’s) Public Enforcement’s priority across the board is profit, not ensuring our communities are kept clean.
“Shockingly 84% of all fines issued are for cigarette offences, 66% of which are issued on private land at service stations or retail parks while only 1% of fines are issued for dog fouling in public spaces.
“In fact more fines (4%) have been issued to vulnerable patients and visitors at Bodelwyddan Hospital than to those deliberately causing a public health concern caused by people who do not clear up after their dogs.
“Yet again Denbighshire councillors have failed to support our community and favoured a profit-making company. To paraphrase Hamlet, there is something foul in the state of Denbighshire, apart from that left by inconsiderate dog owners.”
A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council said: “The Council takes all littering seriously as it is a criminal offence and should not be tolerated in our communities.
“It is not uncommon for a significant majority of fixed penalty notices to be issued for smoking-related litter, as smoking-related litter is the most commonly recorded litter discarded in Denbighshire, and across the UK.
“Smokers that discard cigarette butts often do so on a regular basis and over time this can cause environmental damage as waste contains toxins that harm ecosystems.
“As well as enforcement, the Council conducts street cleansing which is enhanced in the summer months to help manage the increased littering.
“We also work with partners such as Keep Wales Tidy, promoting and supporting community litter picks.
“This year we will be launching an enhanced beach cleaning service with machinery specifically designed to rake clean beaches so waste cannot contaminate the sea and from May 1 we will deploy enhanced patrols along the promenades, beaches and popular beauty spots to deter littering and anti-social behaviour relating to the control of dogs.
“Dog fouling remains a priority for the Council and we work closely with District Enforcement alongside local members and the public to identity those who are offending. The Council is also running an awareness campaign which includes prominent signage and social media reminders for pet owners to act responsibly.
“Irresponsible dog owners are in breach of the Public Space Protection Order and could receive a £100 fixed penalty notice.
“Enforcement patrols are ongoing and we also encourage people who witness dog fouling to contact us with information so we are able to target our patrols.
“To report a dog owner not clearing up after their pet, members of the public are asked to provide a description of the person, a description of the dog as well as the time and location of the offence.
“Our enforcement officers do not operate covertly – whilst on patrol they are highly visible to prevent unwanted behaviours before they happen.
“The majority of dog owners act responsibly and we would like to thank them for ensuring our communities remain clean and attractive for our residents.
“To report an incident of dog fouling visit here…….
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.