Published: 00:01, 14 February 2015
A council contractor which fined a person for spitting out a seed onto a street has come under fire - as people hit back at "over-zealous" wardens.
More than £1,000 of fines have been issued to litter bugs in the first few days of a council crackdown.
In the first two days of litter enforcement by Gravesham council’s new contractors, Kingdom, 15 fines for a total of £1,125 were issued.
But one of those included someone given a fixed penalty notice for spitting out a seed.
The move has sparked anger on KentOnline's Facebook, with many incredulous at the action.
Darren Taylor said: "£75 for spitting out a seed? Really, I think people should be given the option of picking up their litter first and if they refuse, fine them.
"Seed husks are natural organic material. Do we fine the owners of trees in the autumn when their leaves litter the community?"
Matt Bond also thought the penalty for seed spitting was excessive.
He said: "I'm sorry, but I would have walked off.
"For the sake of a seed, what are they gonna do? Restrain you and beat your name and address out of you? Call the police?
"I'm sure any PC or PCSO would be over the moon to be called to an incident of seed spitting."
Ross Edwards commented: "Over a seed??? REALLY??? Proper rubbish fine, but a seed??"
Paul Smith said he believed it was a money-making exercise.
He commented: "Welcome to rip off Britain. Any chance they have to steal your money. They will take it."
But Emma Isteed disagreed. She said: "Yes, but have you seen the town covered in seed husks everywhere? The cleaners spend ages sweeping up only for them to do it again.
"This is what is needed in Gravesend."
Natalie Harton was confused by the phenomenon. She said: "Why are so many people in Gravesend eating seeds?!
"Bizarre that so many people eat them that it creates a litter problem!"
The officers have not just targeted seed spitters.
Officers issued the first fine last Wednesday.
Within a few paces of the Civic Centre entrance they caught a woman discarding a cigarette end on Community Square – just yards from two bins with ashtrays.
She was given a £75 fixed penalty notice.
Several other smokers were caught – even though there are many new ashtrays and bins in the town centre.
Gravesham council decided to get tough to combat the growing problem blighting the town.
The initiative will see two officers on a trial period patrolling five days a week.
When news of the scheme was announced last year, council leader Cllr John Burden warned people they faced on-the-spot penalties for dirtying the streets.
"Over a seed??? REALLY??? Proper rubbish fine, but a seed??" - Ross Edwards
He said: “If people insist on not being good community citizens and throw rubbish on the ground they will pay a fine.
“It’s as simple as that and we will take them to court.”
The new litter cops have the power to fine people £75 for littering and dog fouling.
However, if the offender is under the age of 18 they will be let off the first time, with a letter sent to their parent or guardian.
The council is also considering leasing 28 solar-powered bins, which self-compact rubbish and send an email when they need emptying. That will be discussed by full council on Tuesday, February 24.
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