Cigarette fine anger

IT was an expensive smoke.Dropping a cigarette end out of his car window instead of using the ashtray cost Sean Collins £60 - but the first he knew about his offence was when he received the fine through the post.

IT was an expensive smoke.

Dropping a cigarette end out of his car window instead of using the ashtray cost Sean Collins £60 - but the first he knew about his offence was when he received the fine through the post.

He was spotted by a council employee, who took his car number and reported him.

But the 24-year-old is furious that no-one approached him at the time to point out his misdemeanour, especially as he cannot even remember dropping the cigarette in the first place.

Today council officials warned litterbugs - we are watching you and will fine or prosecute those who throw down rubbish.

Mr Collins, of Cricket Hill Road, Felixstowe, said: “I have paid the fine because I cannot prove that I didn't do it, but I am not sure I did throw down a cigarette end.

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“I cannot remember doing it at all, and the first I became aware that I had done anything wrong was when this letter arrived saying I had been fined £60 and must pay up or I would be taken to court.

“I think it's disgraceful.

“If you throw down rubbish in the town centre there are signs to say you should not and you would be fined, and you would expect someone to ask you to pick it up and take action if you refused. That would be fair enough.”

Mr Collins, a kitchen assistant at the Westcliff residential home in Felixstowe, said his main concern was what would happen if the council employee wrote down the wrong car number and how a person would prove it was not them.

He said: “I paid up because I cannot be sure what happened, and I don't want to go to court and have a criminal record and perhaps not be able to get a mortgage or whatever later on.

“I am not a flytipper ruining the countryside. It was one cigarette end.”

Mr Collins was in his blue VW when he was seen by a council worker in Seaton Road just after 2pm on July 8 and was said to have dropped the cigarette butt out of the window.

Suffolk Coastal's letter said the fine was £80 but £60 if paid within seven days. If it was not paid within 14 days the council would take the matter to court.

Cabinet member Andrew Nunn said: “As is pointed out with the information issued with the Fixed Penalty Notice, the individual can contest it with the council, and if there is enough evidence to suggest that they are not deserving of a FPN it can be cancelled.

“They also have the option of not paying it and taking their chance of the matter being decided by a magistrates' court where there is the potential for a fine, which in the case of littering would be up to £2,500 and a criminal record.”

WEBLINK: www.buttsout.co.uk

Should people who drop cigarette ends be fined? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

second story:

SUFFOLK Coastal is determined to crackdown on those who drop litter or fly-tip.

The Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) received by Sean Collins was issued under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

FPNs can be issued for a range of offences, including illegal roadside advertising of vehicles for sale, repairing vehicles on the highway, abandoned vehicles, dropping litter, fly posting, or grafitti.

The level of fine is either fixed nationally, for example £200 for an abandoned vehicle, or can be set locally within a range fixed nationally. Suffolk Coastal has agreed £80 with a £20 discount for an early payment.

Cabinet member Andrew Nunn said: “This council is committed to ensuring that litter does not become a problem in our district - we spend around £600,000 a year cleaning up litter and we know the public support our attempts to maintain the quality of life in our district by cracking down on those who are dropping litter or flytipping.”

In 2005/06 the council issued 47 FPNs, and has publicised and run a number of special enforcement days to inform and warn people in areas where there was a problem with litter. Any member of the public can report an incident to on 01394 444000.

Factfile: Don't leave your butt on the street . . .

An estimated 4.5 TRILLION cigarette butts enter the environment worldwide every year.

In the UK, 120 tons of cigarette-related litter are discarded on our streets every day, including 200 million butts - accounting for more than 40 per cent of street litter.

Cigarette filters are designed to absorb tar and chemicals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic.

The filters are not, as commonly thought, made of paper, but cellulose acetate, a type of plastic and take 12 years to degrade.

Cigarette butts are flushed into waterways in huge quantities and are harmful to birds and marine life which often mistake them for food - they have been found in the guts of whales, dolphins, sea birds and turtles where they can leach toxic chemicals, cause inflammation of the animal's digestive system and occasionally even death.

Source: Butts Out

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