Fenland: Where a ‘five-a-day’ habit is not what fruit or veg you eat but how many tickets get handed out for littering

The enforcement officers hired by Fenland Council to try and keep the steets clean.

The enforcement officers hired by Fenland Council to try and keep the steets clean. - Credit: Archant

Residents of Fenland have been shown to be getting their ‘five a day’ but its not fresh fruit and vegetables on the roll of honour but the numbers being handed fixed penalty notices for littering.

New figures from Fenland Council show that in the year from June last year to May this year, 1,893 people were handed £75 fixed penalty notices after being spotted dropping litter in the street.

Of these 306 were referred to the courts after not paying on time, 139 were withdrawn or cancelled and not referred for prosecution, but 1,055 have paid up either on time or after being summoned to court.

Those that don’t pay the fixed penalty notice are being handed tough penalties if the case progresses to the magistrates court in Peterborough.

“Legal action has been taken where an original notice has not been paid,” says a council report.

“The offenders each received a fine of £220 plus an additional £226.65 costs and associated charges.”

In May alone, says the report, 42 people were dealt with by the Peterborough court and a further three paid the original penalty plus costs of £150 prior to the court date.

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“The average payment rate achieved between June 2017 and February 2018 is 67 per cent,” says the council. “As a result the service is operating on a self-funding basis.”

The council says it hired enforcement agency Kingdom Services as part of a Tidy Fenland campaign to help rid communities of litter, dog fouling and fly-tipping crimes and reduce Fenland’s £1,000-a-day cleansing bill.

Portfolio holder Cllr Peter Murphy revealed that a much higher percentage of time is spent by Kingdom in Wisbech than other parts of Fenland.

In May, he said, Kingdom officers spent 219 hours in Wisbech, 82 hours in Whittlesey, 76 hours in March, 58 hours in Chatteris, and just four hours in the villages.

In Wisbech they handed out 43 penalty notices for littering and 20 for breaches of alcohol under a Public Space Protection Order, whilst in March only three notices were handed out for littering, one in Whittlesey and none in Chatteris.

Wisbech is also top of a chart for fly tipping with 69 offences listed for one month but the villages are next with 57, whilst Chatteris and March notched up 12 cases and Whittlesey just five.

Catching up with dog owners who fail to pick up their mess has been more challenging although Cllr Murphy says one offender was successfully issued with a fixed penalty notice after being spotted in Whittlesey.

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