A monumental drop in the number of littering fines being handed out on Wigan streets could have cost the council at least £60,000.
The number of fines handed out to litter bugs has dropped by almost 2,000 in the space of a year, figures have revealed.
A Freedom of Information request has showed that only 134 fixed penalty notices were handed out between August 2016 and 2017 compared to 2,123 in the previous 12 months. Less than 100 of these fines, which typically cost £50 for littering, have been paid since 2016.
If each person who settled their fine in 2015/16 did so in the first two weeks, compared to the 92 who paid in 2016/17, the council could have lost £63,500 in payments alone.
Paul Barton, Wigan Council’s assistant director for environment, said: “Littering is a blight on our town centres and local communities and costs the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to clean up.
“We would like to thank all residents who use the litter bins around the borough. Our frontline staff tell us that they now see more people using bins especially in our town centres rather than throwing cigarettes or other litter on the floor.
“We have also seen a significant improvement in the reduction of litter at hotspots thanks to our proactive work.”
Since 2015/16 one of the major changes seen in the council’s approach to litter is the termination of its contract with 3GS which provided litter enforcement services.
According to town hall officials, the council has retained staff with the power to enforce litter fines, but they are also working in a “more educational and partnership approach with residents” as part of The Deal.
Mr Barton added: “The council has changed its approach in terms of litter enforcement and in line with The Deal principles our focus is more on education rather than penalising people.
“Wider factors such as the growth in vaping and e-cigarettes will also have had an effect on the reduction in cigarette litter.”
Residents can still expect to be fined at least £50 for littering and leaving dog mess on the street, but there are a number of other offences which incur higher financial penalties.
For example, an “offence relating to a domestic bin” can expect to incur a £60 and an offence regarding a commercial bin can be expected to cost £80.
Failure to comply with street litter control notices or litter clearing notices both carry a fine of at least £80. Residents can be prosecuted and forced to pay up to £2,500 if these fines are ignored.
Littering incidents can be reported via the Report It app or online at www.wigan.gov.uk/reportit