Saturday, 11 October 2014

£80 Fine For Littering in The Bush - Does It Work?

Zero Tolerance. But what does that really mean?
In our neck of The Bush there are plenty of signs threatening "zero tolerance" for litter bugs - and an £80 fine for dropping litter.

In theory, this should mean clean streets, but in practice it doesn't seem to.

In fact, the lamp posts with the "zero tolerance" signs seem to be a favourite gathering place for litter, a special gift for the law enforcers who obviously aren't there.

So, does our Council actually fine anyone for street littering in The Bush?

This was the question I asked a policeman at a recent community meeting. - Had he had ever actually booked anyone for littering? Yes, he said, the police do this regularly.

I personally have never seen anyone actually get a ticket in my local neighbourhood. Parking offences? Sure - the Council's agents are everywhere, issuing tickets, prowling for violations - real and imagined.

Litter is everywhere; I clean it up from the street in front of my house almost every day, as do many of my neighbours. Even the nightclub at the end of the street pays a member of staff to clean up the street outside their door. And of course the Council comes by every morning to sweep up the debris that accumulates.

Glendale, Ca. Photo: Wikipedia
Could things be better? Surely there is a better way. Some years ago I lived and worked in Glendale, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. One of my co-workers, a fellow Brit, finished smoking a cigarette outside the office building and he dropped the butt on the pavement. He was promptly booked by the Glendale police and received a court summons to appear before a judge. He got a $300 fine and had to spend his weekends for the next month working in the public park picking up litter. He was outraged, and such a large fine did seem like a lot of money for one cigarette butt.  But then, the streets of downtown Glendale are clean. The system works.

The system in The Bush does not work. Our streets are not clean, despite the Council's best efforts. They are filthy. Litterbugs do not live in fear of £80 fines, if indeed they are ever levied. What is to be done? Maybe we need to be more like Glendale, with bigger fines - ones which are actually enforced.


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