A Barnoldswick councillor and self-confessed 'litter zealot' has called on Pendle Council to end its partnership with an enforcement company which he says has been unfairly targeting cigarette smokers.
Coun. David Whipp, a member of Keep Britain Tidy, was speaking after he received figures from Pendle Council which revealed that 94% of the Fixed Penalty Notices issued by District Enforcement Ltd since it began operating last February were for cigarette related offences.
Describing the situation as "diabolical", Coun. Whipp said there were better ways to tackle the problem of littering in the borough and added he believed that Pendle Council did not get enough out of its partnership with the private firm.
He said: "I had some concerns about District Enforcement and so requested some data from Pendle Council. The fixed penalty notices issued by Pendle's 'litter police' have passed the 3,000 mark since they began operating in our area last February.
"The vast majority of the 3,096 penalties (94%) are for cigarette related offences - 2,566 are for fag ends and 352 are for roll-ups. Just four are fast food related and six are for drinks bottles.
"Less than 2% (1.78%) are for dog fouling. I abhor litter but I think there are better ways of tackling it than enforcement officers. In fact I believe the scheme is breeding a whole set of people who are more contemptuous of authority.
"Not only that, council officials who survey the amount of litter on streets 'can't say they've had a decrease' in littering since the litter police contract came into place."
The fixed penalty notice fine for littering was increased from £75 to £150, or £80 for early payment when the scheme was introduced. Also the previous warnings given to offenders were replaced with on the spot fines.
Coun. Whipp said that if the scheme follows the pattern of its first six months it would take £1m. out of people's pockets in a full year through the fixed penalty notices and court fines.
Amazingly, only around £30,000 would be paid to Pendle Council by the contractor running the scheme.
Coun. Whipp added: "Some £400,000 of the estimated total would be made up of court fines where people have appealed and lost. However, that still leaves a massive gap between what is classed as profit and running costs.
"I hate litter and spend a lot of my time litter-picking and keeping places tidy, but I have serious concerns about the effectiveness of the litter police activity.
"I've asked that Pendle Council's Policy and Resources Committee considers terminating the scheme when the 12 month contract is up next February."