Motorist fined for throwing cigarette out of window

A LITTERBUG is picking up a �495 bill for throwing a cigarette out of his car window - because his ashtray was full of change.

Russell Claydon

A LITTERBUG is picking up a �495 bill for throwing a cigarette out of his car window - because his ashtray was full of change.

Phillip Clark, of Priory Walk, Sudbury, was taken to court by Babergh District Council after failing to pay a fine in relation to the incident, which was witnessed by a town warden.

Magistrates in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday fined Clark �150 and ordered him to pay costs of �330 plus a standard victim surcharge of �15.

The court heard how a Sudbury Town Council warden saw him lobbing the cigarette out of his car while waiting at the lights on King Street in Sudbury on May 20.

When questioned about the incident by Babergh's environmental protection team Clark admitted throwing the cigarette out of his window as his car ashtray was full of change.

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He was offered the opportunity of paying a Fixed Penalty Notice fine of �80 - reduced to �60 if paid within ten days - as an alternative to prosecution. But he failed to pay it, despite several reminders from the council.

As a result the case was taken to St Edmundsbury Magistrates' Court where Clark pleaded guilty by post.

After the case Joanna Hart, environmental protection officer at Babergh, said: “While this may initially seem a trivial matter to some, it costs Babergh taxpayers nearly �80,000 a year to clean Sudbury town centre.

“It's a particular shame in this instance as Mr Clark was within easy reach of an ashtray in his car but chose not to use it.

“Babergh welcomes the fact that magistrates reflected the seriousness of the offence in the amount of fine and charges given to Mr Clark.”

Smoking-related litter is the most commonly found litter on UK streets and makes up more than 40% of all litter dropped in the country.

In 2008, Babergh joined up with Sudbury Town Council to spend approximately �10,000 on installing 22 new litter bins - all fitted with cigarette ashtrays - in the town centre.

“It is unfortunate a minority of people seem to have little respect for the town in which they live and work in,” added Joanna Hart. “So it is important they understand that dropping litter is an offence and that Babergh is prepared to take incidents like this to court if necessary.”

A spokeswoman for Babergh said the money raised from their fixed penalties goes directly back into ensuring streets are kept clean.

“Babergh officers work closely with Sudbury town wardens to keep an eye out for litterers, and periodically patrol Sudbury town centre to conduct similar campaigns against litterers, as well as at other 'hotspots' in the district,” she said.