A WOMAN who was fined for littering after she left a used cup on a table outside a coffee shop has warned other cafe visitors to be on their guard.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said she was stunned to be hit with an £80 fine by a member of Rotherham Borough Council’s anti-litter squad.
After the Advertiser intervened, the fine was scrapped but the shopper said the incident had left a bad taste in the mouth.
She said: “I ordered a coffee in a takeaway cup as I wanted to sit outside and smoke with my coffee. I sat at a Costa table within the fenced-off area.
“When I had finished, I left my Costa takeaway cup on the table, as had all other people leaving their cups, saucers and plates with sandwich wrappers on.
“When I walked out of the Costa area, I was approached by a man who had been standing with his colleague over the road watching me.
“He then introduced himself as a council worker and informed me he was going to issue me a fixed penalty fine for littering which he then proceeded to do — a fine of £80.
“I never drop litter, and I asked how this could be littering in a private rented area when Costa Coffee employs waitresses to clear their tables?”
Two days after the Advertiser took up the case and contacted the council, the cafe customer received a letter saying the fine had been cancelled.
Her partner said: “I do find it difficult to understand why they thought the fine should still stand when I challenged it, but as soon as a newspaper contacts them, they cancel it.”
Ajman Ali, Rotherham Council’s interim assistant director for community safety and street scene, said: “This ticket was issued in error. Our apologies for this and any fine paid will be refunded to her.”
A council spokeswoman confirmed that its staff were able to give out tickets in a public area such as Parkgate Retail Park even though the park is privately owned.
Costa Coffee was approached for a comment but none was received before our deadline.
The Advertiser recently reported that the council’s anti-litter squad had handed out more than 5,300 fines over the last seven months — an increase of 9,900 per cent on the figure before the squad was set up.