Edinburgh streets cleaner as litter wardens put their foot down

THE number of litter fines dished out in the Capital has almost doubled to more than 100 a month following a council crackdown.

The city hired extra environmental wardens last year – beefing up its existing team from 32 to 51 – in order to target people dropping cigarette stubs and chewing gum on the city streets.

The extra investment has seen a sharp rise in the number of 50 fixed penalty notices being issued.

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A total of 1,046 have been handed out in the last nine months, compared with 680 fines in the whole of 2008/09.

Another 135 people were handed 60 fines for dog fouling, almost as many as the 139 in the previous 12 months.

The 50,000-plus raised in fines so far, however, is dwarfed by the 600,000 cost of running the team.

The environmental wardens also carry out a number of other duties, including education in schools and work tackling flyposting, noise nuisance, dumped vehicles and other issues.

Green councillor Maggie Chapman said: "I think that if this tougher action does discourage littering it can only be a good thing. Nobody wants there to be litter around the streets and it doesn't do anything for community spirit."

But the Taxpayers' Alliance claimed the council was being too hard on people committing relatively minor offences.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Alliance, said: "Littering is a problem, but it must be dealt with fairly.

"Edinburgh's residents need to be reassured that the council are enforcing the rules to get tidy streets rather than becoming Draconian in order to generate cash.

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"A good way to do that would be to use this money to give people tax breaks if they recycle."

Councillor Paul Edie, the city's leader for community safety, said: "Our wardens make a real difference in the reduction of environmental and antisocial behaviour offences across the city. It is far from just about knuckling down on people, it is about trying to change their behaviour.

"We'd much rather people were not dropping litter than having to fine them for doing it."

• Online poll: Should people face stiffer fines for dropping litter in the city?

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Should people be fined for dropping litter?

George Fraser, 66, retired delivery driver, Gracemount Avenue: "No, they should be given an ASBO instead and made to clear up the snow from the pavements."

Gerry McGarvey, 46, renewable energy consultant, Shandon: "I would agree with people being fined for dropping litter, but people are obviously not deterred by the fixed penalty sanction."

Liz Barron, 51, sales assistant, Bingham Crossway: "No, they should be given a warning instead."

Tom Loughray, 73, retired builder, Muirhouse Gardens: "Yes, very much so. You need a strong deterrent like a whopper of a fine – at least 100."

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