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Maidstone Borough Council proposes an increase in littering fines

A council is meeting tonight to discuss increasing fines for littering.

Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) is proposing an increase in the fines from £80 to £120.

The authority's communities, housing and environment committee will meet to discuss the plans.

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Littered verges are common on main roads.
Littered verges are common on main roads.

Although the maximum fine would be £120 if the committee approved the recommendation, it would only be £90 if paid within 14 days.

This discussion comes after the government introduced its new litter strategy for England, which hopes to improve the natural environment of the country.

Therese Coffey, the government's environment minister, announced new steps in October which will allow local authorities to increase fines.

From April 2018, the minimum fine, as set out by the government, will rise from £50 to £65, while the maximum will increase from £80 to £150.

MBC is suggesting the increase would be beneficial due to the costs incurred by the council when clearing litter.

The government's plans also look to tackle littering from vehicles, and local authorities outside of London will be able to fine vehicle owners if it can be proven that litter was thrown from their vehicle, even if it was discarded by someone else.

If agreed by the committee, Maidstone council would look to implement these new fines through its new on-street enforcement team, which should be in place by April next year.

This new team is being put together due to the authority discontinuing its contract with Kingdom Services Group.

Three options have been made available to the committee for tonight's meeting.

The first is to take no action and retain the current fine of £80. This option is not recommended as 85% of respondents to a survey by the council said they would support an increase in fines in order to improve the cleanliness of the borough.

The second would be to increase the fine to the maximum of £150. This is not a preferred option as it's considered too big of an increase, and would be disproportionate to the costs incurred by the council to clean litter.

The third, which is recommended, is to increase the fine to £120, and to offer a reduced charge of £90 if payment is made within 14 days of the fixed penalty notice being issued.

The communities, housing and environment committee meets at Maidstone Town Hall tonight from 6.30pm.

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