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Local councils are failing to take on litterbugs and should be ordered to employ private enforcement services with the power to hand out on-the-spot fines, according to think tank Bright Blue. An estimated two million pieces of rubbish are dropped every day across the country. Cases of fly-tipping, defined as the illegal disposal of household or commercial waste, have risen to 1.13 million each year, an increase of 16 percent from the 980,000 reported in 2019/20.
But a recent Freedom of Information request found that more than half of councils issue fewer than one fine for littering each week on average, while almost one in six issued no fines at all.
Research by Bright Blue found that the 73 local authorities who employ third-party enforcement services each issued an average of 2,940 fines, of up to £150, every year.
The think tank is now calling on watchdog the Office of Environmental Protection to ensure councils are enforcing litter laws, and to mandate the use of third-party enforcement services when they fail to do so.
Joshua Marks, Senior Researcher at Bright Blue and co-author of the report, said: “Fly-tipping and littering ruin neighbourhoods and cost the taxpayer millions to clean up every year.
“Littering ought to be a higher priority for both local and central governments. Ensuring that we enforce our current littering laws more forcefully is necessary to protect our high streets.
The think tank also wants the maximum fixed penalty notice for littering increased to £500.
A Local Government Association spokesperson said: “In some instances, bringing in private companies may be better value for the public, and avoid the cost of littering being passed on to responsible residents. These private companies will be accountable to councils and subject to regular reviews, and local authorities have clear appeals processes and systems for reporting and monitoring complaints.
“Each council has to decide the best way to tackle litter in their individual communities, but whilst we recognise that responses have to be proportionate, measures must be robust enough to tackle abuse of the local environment.”
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