Published: 10:00, 09 July 2015
Litter louts are set to be punished in the pocket after council chiefs revealed talks are under way to dish out fines for dropping rubbish in the town centre.
Discarded cigarette butts, bottles and food wrappers could soon result in financial penalties as the authority speaks to private firms to tackle Dartford’s litter “epidemic”.
There are plans to employ enforcement officers by the end of the year. One of the companies in discussions is believed to be Kingdom, whose wardens wear CCTV cameras while on patrol.
The firm was hired by Gravesham council last year. They were given powers to fine people for littering and dog fouling. The fines began at £60 but have just risen to £75.
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite (Con) said: "Litter in the town centre has become a black spot, and we need to deal with it.
"We are not a council that likes to put in rules and regulations but it has got to the point where something has to be done.
"It’s simple: the way to avoid fines is to not drop litter. Littering is an epidemic and it has become depressing.
"I think most people in Dartford will support us with this. We will start explaining it to people to give them time to get used to it."
Cllr Kite said the plans were being spearheaded by Calvin McLean, the council’s lead member for enforcement and community safety.
Cllr McLean was elected to the authority in May after standing in Newtown ward.
He said: "During the election campaign it was a constant theme when I spoke to people and I must have knocked on thousands of doors.
"As a council we take a common sense approach but it has got to the stage where people haven't got the message.
"It blights the community for other people and we feel we have to respond to those concerns."
A Keep Britain Tidy spokeswoman said the cost of littering to local authorities in England was estimated at £1 billion per year.
She said: “We would support councils using fines to enforce anti-littering messages, whether these are delivered by council staff or private organisations, provided the enforcement is proportional and used in conjunction with a range of other methods such as campaigns for residents.
"Enforcement is a useful tool for councils in tackling littering, but should never be used in isolation."