Published: 05:00, 12 May 2022
| Updated: 16:22, 12 May 2022
A man fined £150 for dropping a cigarette butt claims the penalty is too high and the punishment “unethical” as the cost-of-living crisis takes hold.
Giles Klech, 51, was walking along Station Road in Faversham when he discarded the stub on the ground.
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But he was spotted by an eagle-eyed enforcement officer working on behalf of Swale Borough Council (SBC), who issued him with the costly fixed penalty notice.
Mr Klech has now criticised the approach by the local authority, claiming there are not enough bins in the area and that smokers are being targeted for “easy money-making”.
“How can you possibly charge £150 for dropping a cigarette butt, which was subsequently picked up and put in a bin?” he said.
“It has hardly ruined the whole of Swale. They are doing this in 2022, with costs and energy prices rising.
“I told them where we live fly-tipping is everywhere, and it gets complained about all the time, but they still don’t stick the resources there.
“Their take was if you’re walking around and there are no bins, you wait until you get home and stick it in the bin.
“There are only bins in the town centre, but once you come out of it, there is nothing.”
Mr Klech, who runs an IT company, also bemoans what he claims is a lack of signage alerting people to the potential penalties littering could incur.
“I said there are no signs stating if you do it you’ll be fined, and I think that is unethical in the extreme,” he said.
“I don’t see how you can charge people who are unaware it will be enforced, if you don’t put any signs up? If you go to a car park and you don’t pay, you know you will be charged."
Figures obtained by this paper show that almost 90% of littering fines issued by Swale council last year were for dropped cigarette butts.
Out of a total of 1,221 fixed penalty notices, 1,092 were for discarded stubs.
The fines generated £97,700 - with an undisclosed percentage going to contractor Kingdom LA Support, which carries out the enforcement on behalf of the council.
At the same time, just five fixed penalty notices were dished out for dog fouling in 2021, and none in the two years before.
Mr Klech, who was fined on March 29, believes the council’s resources should be directed elsewhere.
“I often pick up other people’s rubbish and stick it in bins - and I also pick up other people’s dog poo,” he added.
“We live in Selling and when you put your bin out they don’t even collect it - it’s ridiculous.
“One cigarette butt is not going to ruin the whole of Swale, and I think it is absolutely disgusting. I think they’re trying to make money for the council.”
Mr Klech, who helps care for his bed-bound father, has been given an extra month to pay the fine by Swale council.
A spokesman for the authority says it spends more than £1 million cleaning the borough’s streets each year - with about three-quarters of litter smoking-related.
“Littering of any kind can receive a fixed penalty notice of £150, and that includes cigarette butts..."
“Not only do cigarette butts look unsightly but they contain single use plastics and toxic chemicals that can persist in the environment for many years,” they said.
“Littering of any kind can receive a fixed penalty notice of £150, and that includes cigarette butts.
“Any income we receive from litter FPNs is re-invested into schemes to keep the borough clear of litter.
“It pays for enforcement, as well as environmental projects such as buying litter pickers for beach cleans, installing extra litter bins, and our community environment grants.
“We also offer people who have received a smoking-related FPN a £100 refund if they successfully quit smoking through the NHS One You Smokefree programme.
“Last year we issued more than 1,400 FPNs to people caught littering and more than 150 of these were later prosecuted in court for failing to pay the FPN.
“Residents tell us that having clean streets is important to them and we will continue to issue FPNs to anyone caught littering.”
Kingdom LA Support also carries out litter enforcement for some other authorities in Kent, and has previously been accused of targeting smokers.