A SMOKER fined £80 after dropping his cigarette butt down a drain has been told by council chiefs: “Our message is clear – drop litter and you risk a fine.”
Mark Smith (43), of Thatch Place, Rockingham, was one of the first people caught in a new crackdown on environmental crimes when he was spotted dropping the cigarette outside Tesco on Drummond Street last Thursday (April 27).
He insisted he did not know he was committing an offence and complained about a lack of litter bins in the area.
But Rotherham Borough Council, which has enlisted private firm Kingdom Security to massively increase the number of littering fines imposed, had no sympathy and dismissed Mr Smith’s claim that he had thought cigarettes were biodegradable.
The smoker was spotted by an enforcement officer and issued with an on-the-spot fine.
He said he had used the drain to dispose of it “because there were no bins outside the main entrance” and the “nearest one was 150 yards in the opposite direction”.
Mr Smith said he always put his butts down the drain “so the rain could wash it away into the sewage” and believed his roll-up cigarette was biodegradable.
He added: “There’s no notification the council are doing anything on this or signs up saying it’s an offence.
“I don’t think it’s right what they’re doing – they are targeting people going in to the bus station and Tesco because there’s no cigarette bins there, it’s just a quick fix for the council to get money.”
Mr Smith said he would have trouble paying the fine because he lived on benefits and was “in debt up to my eyeballs already”.
The council’s assistant director for community safety and street scene, Karen Hanson, said: “Cigarette litter has been a criminal offence for a long period of time and that includes putting it down the drain.
“Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and cause substantial problems with drainage.
“Our message is clear – drop litter and you risk a fine.
“Anyone who receives a fine can of course seek to appeal the decision and the details of how to do this are provided on the fine notice.”
The Advertiser revealed in January the council’s plans to come down hard on litter louts in a bid to slash its annual £1.7 million environmental crime bill.
Last week we reported how it’s new enforcement team, who had been tasked with issuing 5,000 fines a year, had hit the streets ready to catch offenders flouting litter, dog fouling and other laws.