Edinburgh's litter fines could rise to £100 - but just 11 paid up last year

On-the-spot fines for anyone caught dropping rubbish in Edinburgh could increase to £100, despite new figures obtained by the Evening News highlighting the fact only 11 fixed penalty notices were paid in the Capital last year.

Despite just 11 fixed penalties being paid in Edinburgh last year, there could be an increase in the fine. Pic: Ian Georgeson
Despite just 11 fixed penalties being paid in Edinburgh last year, there could be an increase in the fine. Pic: Ian Georgeson

At the full council meeting today, Conservatives will call for the current £80 fine to be pushed up to £100 to help clean up the Capital’s streets.

The motion by Conservative transport and environment spokesman, Cllr Nick Cook, will call on the council to write to the Scottish Government asking Ministers to “implement this change as quickly as possible”.

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Over the last five years, the number of fixed penalty notices issued dropped from 1,837 in 2013/14, of which 1,233 were paid – to just 20 in 2017/18, of which only 11 were paid. Overall, during the same five-year period, 67 per cent of litter fines were paid.

Enforcement fell off a cliff-face in 2016 with 631 fines issued in 2015/16, but just 114 the following year.

Cllr Cook said: “Littering is a senseless and entirely avoidable crime, often borne of sheer laziness. I believe that imposing higher financial penalties will prove to be an important deterrent and help keep Edinburgh streets clean.”

The motion is set to be backed by Green councillors, but they have called for a wider strategy.

Green environment spokesman, Cllr Steve Burgess, said: “I’m not confident that an extra £20 on the fine will make that much difference. A small minority of people will continue to litter because they think there is little chance of being caught and fined.

“What’s really needed is a much wider plan to tackle litter, with more environmental wardens and simpler enforcement action. Also increasing the availability of bins, efficient pick-ups, better support for community action and public education. And, of course, the big picture is to challenge manufacturers and shops to dramatically reduce the huge volume of plastic and packaging produced in the first place.”

The council had 49 environmental wardens in 2015, but now only has 35 to issue fixed penalty notices.

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “I support possible increases in fines for littering, as well as fly-tipping and dog fouling, as a means of deterring the selfish few who break the law, and intend to write to the Scottish Government to request this change is made.

“In Edinburgh, our environmental wardens have a range of responsibilities in addition to enforcement, including control of dogs and certain public health duties. Recent activity to discourage littering has been beneficial, with efforts like the Our Edinburgh campaign proving successful.

“We do recognise that the issue of fixed penalty notices is the most appropriate action in some cases, and I have already asked officers to review our approach to enforcement with the aim of improving the service.”