Sunderland City Council has been clamping down on smokers who don’t dispose of their cigarette ends correctly – handing out subsequent penalties for those who break the rules.
Recently, two Sunderland litterbugs were each handed standard £150 fixed penalty notices for littering offences after they dumped their cigarette butts on public streets.
But after failing to pay their fines despite various reminder letters, both cases were referred for legal proceedings to take place at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.
Neither defendant attended their court summons, and their cases were both found proven despite their absence.
Councillor Claire Rowntree, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “The vast majority of city residents and visitors manage to dispose of their waste and litter both legally and properly.
“Unfortunately, there is a minority who do not do this and they run the risk of Fixed Penalty Notices for littering and court action if they ignore their notices and warning letters.
“Councillors regularly receive complaints about littering and, as in previous weeks, these fines send out a very strong message that smoking can be a very expensive habit if you don’t stub your cigarettes out in an ashtray.
“Because these people ignored the Penalty Notice for littering, legal action followed and, as can be seen from the fines, the courts take these matters seriously.”
One offence took place at the Galleries Shopping Centre in June, and the other was witnessed on Ethel Terrace, Castletown in March – and after court hearings the defendants were each ordered to pay a £220 fine, a victim surcharge of £34 and court costs of £225.
Both locations have multiple council provided bins for the correct discarding of cigarettes and other litter.
Seventeen smokers were ordered to pay fines, costs and victim surcharges by courts in September alone – and over the past two years there have been more than 300 reported cases of cigarette littering across the City of Sunderland.
Witnesses can report cases of littering and fly tipping to the council at https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/report-litter