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Smoker Peter Wheatley prepared to be jailed rather than pay cigarette litter fine

Furious Peter Wheatley says he will go to jail rather than pay a £150 litter fine.

Mr Wheatley, 61, from Oast Court, Sittingbourne, was handed the fixed penalty notice after “accidentally” dropping a cigarette end as he walked home.

The fee was increased from £80 to £150 at the beginning of this month, after new regulations came into force allowing councils to increase the fines.

Peter Wheatley has been fined £150 for dropping a cigarette Picture: Steve Crispe
Peter Wheatley has been fined £150 for dropping a cigarette Picture: Steve Crispe

The father-of-three said he had been carrying it to the nearest bin in Albany Park but dropped it without knowing. “It just fell out of my hand,” he said.

But he was spotted by one of Swale council’s eagle-eyed anti-litter team who handed him a ticket.

Mr Wheatley said: “He had been tailing me for 400 metres. As soon as he pointed out what I’d done I picked the cigarette end up and put it in a bin.

“But he insisted I had to pay the fine. This isn’t just about litter. It’s a money-making scheme.

“If Swale council was so concerned about rubbish, it would clear up the streets around its own council offices in East Street. I’ll go to jail if I have to. I’ll fight this all the way.”

He has contacted Gordon Henderson but the Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP said: “This is a matter for Swale council. However, I fully support the council in its efforts to cut down on littering and believe a zero-tolerance policy is the only way to solve what is a long-term problem.”

Peter Wheatley has been fined £150 for dropping a cigarette Picture: Steve Crispe (3100212)
Peter Wheatley has been fined £150 for dropping a cigarette Picture: Steve Crispe (3100212)

His own Litter Angels charity has installed litter bins around Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

A Swale council spokesman said: “Residents tell us tackling litter should be one of our top priorities which is why we brought in extra patrols to both deter and fine people who drop rubbish.

“The officers are clearly identifiable and have body-worn cameras to record when fixed penalty notices are issued.

Anyone who receives an FPN can make a representation to the council where the footage will be reviewed to check whether it was issued appropriately. The FPN can then be appealed at a magistrates court.”

The service is self-funding with any surplus reinvested into environmental projects. Last year the council used £10,000 to install new litter bins.


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