Opposition councillors say new plans to fine litter louts in Sunderland do not go far enough and argue a private firm should be hired to deal with the problem.
The city council’s cabinet has agreed to approve new Environment Enforcement Policy in relation to litter, dog control and waste management.
Those found guilty of such acts can be handed a fixed penalty of up to £350 for flytipping and up to £75 for littering.
Fines would be discounted to £250 for fly-tipping if paid within 10 days and to £50 for littering.
But Conservatives in the city argue that the new powers will not do enough to eradicate the problem and have suggested hiring a private company.
Coun Michael Dixon said: “Council officers are working hard to deal with the many instances of litter and fly tipping across the city but they need assistance in terms of enforcement of fines so they can concentrate on their duties.
“For too long, political leaders in the city have dragged their heals on issuing fines with the city becoming a soft touch compared with Newcastle where a more determined approach has led to cleaner streets.
“A more robust response is essential if the city is to be cleaned up so Sunderland should follow many other councils such as Wrexham where a private company has been successful in enforcing fines and reducing litter.
“This could be done on a trial basis in the worst-affected areas such as near schools, shops, parks and back lanes and, once word gets round that fines are being handed out, then there would be a reduction in people leaving litter and fly tipping.”
However Coun Michael Mordey, the council’s member for city services, said: “This issue of privatised enforcement has been raised before but private firms are more profit driven and we have had disasters with them before.
“It’s better for us to have our officers doing this work.
“It’s the Tory mantra again of privatise, privatise, privatise and it’s something I’m not in favour of.
“They also say we are dragging our feet over this, but we have put this report through scrutiny and cabinet in six months since the powers became available.
“We are not going to tolerate this problem and people have to start taking responsibility for their own actions.”