“Lazy and disrespectful” litter louts could be hit with higher fines in a bid to clear up Sunderland’s rubbish-strewn streets.
Fines for dropping waste could be doubled from £75 to £150, as could punishments for those who daub graffiti and those who hand out leaflets, cards, newspapers or takeaway menus and other promotional leaflets which are often discarded.
Flytippers will also face increased fines, with the authority looking at bringing in powers to seize vehicles used to dump waste.
Proposals to increase fines will be discussed by Sunderland City Council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Since the re-launch of the council’s Environmental Enforcement Policy last February, the Environmental Enforcement Team has carried out 4,168 investigations into environmental crimes across the city, including littering, dog fouling and fly-tipping.
It says this has resulted in more than 500 formal warnings being issued and 165 fines issued for waste offences.
Several householders have also been taken to court for fly-tipping offences and more prosecutions are pending.
The Echo’s Clean Streets campaign was launched in response to the demands from Wearsiders who are fed up of littering and want to see the city look smarter.
Deputy leader, Coun Michael Mordey, said: “Even with the continued and growing financial pressures that all councils are facing, this council is working hard to keep our city clean and green.
“What the council and others in our community should not have to do is go round and clean up after those who are too lazy and disrespectful to have any pride in their own city.
What the council and others in our community should not have to do is go round and clean up after those who are too lazy and disrespectful to have any pride in their own city.Councillor Michael Mordey
“The council, along with other local authorities up and down the country, is stepping up its enforcement action against those who blight our city.
“Subject to next week’s meeting, the council is looking to increase the Penalty Notices and the enforcement action against litter bugs and fly-tippers.
“While we look to this update next week, the council is also looking into adopting powers to seize vehicles involved in fly-tipping.
“The council will update on the adoption of these powers against vehicle owners in coming weeks and months.
“As I have said on many occasions, too many people are lazy and irresponsible when it comes to all the littering and fly-tipping that we see in our neighbourhoods.
“I don’t find it acceptable, the majority of people do not find it acceptable and the council’s enforcement actions are sending out a message to this lazy minority that they need to accept responsibility and think about their actions.”
The fines would be applied to over 18s, with juveniles facing alternative Environmental Enforcement options not involving criminal proceedings.
Youngsters could face Acceptable Behaviour Agreements, Restorative Justice programmes, and home visits to parents.
But Conservatives on the council have said more must be done by the authority to crack down on the issue.
Coun Robert Oliver, leader of the Tory group, said: “Sunderland needs to increase the number of fines for littering if the city is going to be cleaned up and Sunderland Conservatives are concerned that the council continues to drag its heels.
“The Labour leadership is reluctant to make the irresponsible minority who drop litter pay for their mess by issuing fines with only a very small increase in the number given out in recent months.
“This must include any young people who drop litter and these proposals may not go far enough in dissuading under-18s from dropping litter on the streets of the city as there is little evidence of their use.
“No one would want to criminalise young people but the point must be made that if residents under the age of eighteen do not face consequences for dropping litter their behaviour is unlikely to change later.”
A part of the council’s latest budget, an extra £1.5 million - alongside the £500,000 invested last year - will be put into supporting environmental services such as cleaning, bin and recycling collections, and prosecuting litter bugs and fly-tippers.
That is in spite of continuing budget cuts, which have seen a reduction of £290 million from its budgets since 2010 and an agreement to save almost £30 million more between now and 2020.
Anyone who sees anyone fly tipping or dropping litter can report it anonymously to: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/12416/Report-fly-tipping.
HOW THE FINES COULD CHANGE
Offence / Fixed Penalty Notice now / Early payment now / Proposed Fixed Penalty Notice / Proposed early payment
Depositing Litter £75 £50 £150 £95
Vehicles For Sale On A Highway £100 £60 £100 £75
Distribution Of Free Printed Matter £75 £50 £150 £95
Fail To Produce Waste Documents £300 £180 £300 £180
Fail To Produce Authority To Transport Waste £300 £180 £300 £180
Fail To Comply With Waste Receptacles Notice (Commercial Waste) £100 £60 £110 £85
Applying graffiti or fly-posting £75 £50 £150 £95