We know the council employs bean counters. And, for all we know, WLBC might be employing fag-butt counters too. The council website reports that “A driver from Kirkby has been fined £440 after he was spotted dropping a cigarette butt while driving his vehicle. Dropping a cigarette butt is a littering offence and those spotted committing such an offence will be issued with a £75 fixed penalty notice. Failure to pay the penalty is likely to result in court action and a much more expensive bill including a heavy fine.
“Wigan Magistrates Court heard that a male driver of a vehicle was seen by a Council officer dropping a cigarette end out of this vehicle onto Mill Lane, Skelmersdale. This vehicle was traced back to a resident of Kirkby. He was issued with a fixed penalty notice of £75 but this was not paid. The Council then took the matter to the Magistrates Court.
“He did not attend court and was found guilty in his absence. As well as his fine he was also ordered to pay costs of £397.14 and a victim surcharge of £44, a total of £881.14.
“Councillor Kevin Wright, portfolio holder for Health and Community Safety, said “By failing to dispose of his cigarette butt properly this man has landed himself with a bill of nearly £900. The Council is ambitious for West Lancashire to have a good quality, clean environment and this case should act as a warning that we will crack down on people who action litter and will take appropriate action against those found doing it. Cigarette butts account for 40% of all the litter dropped in the UK . They are an environmental hazard as the filters take up to 12 years to biodegrade and are harmful to wildlife. I would urge people to dispose of them carefully”.
Clear enough, Cllr Wright is the right man for butt enforcements! But who among our Council officers actually checks %ages of butts among general litter? The mind boggles! Councils are empowered under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act to write fixed penalty notices, so it must happen.
Meanwhile, large areas of the Beacon Park Golf Course lie under deliberately dumped excessive litter, called landfill. Because it was dumped by Serco Leisure Operating Ltd and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd under what started as legal planning development, no action ever taken and the greed for landfill royalties took over .
But where was the WLBC landfill control officer? Head of Leisure and Cultural Services 21st August 2015 “Council planning officers and officers from the Environment Agency both undertake monitoring functions in relation to the site. The planning officers in relation to the general conditions under the planning approval and the Environment Agency in relation to the permit and licence for Oaklands Leisure Limited for the importation of materials on to the site”.
And “The last visit took place on Wednesday this week 19th August 2015, when both the Environment Agency Officer and the Councils Planning Enforcement Officer attended site. They inspected the log for deliveries and permits in place for operators bringing loads to the site; they also looked around the site at the levels and infill material which is still visible. One of the issues raised by Mr Newman (member of the Golf Members Club) was the height of the mounds of soil, the planning officer was unable to make any judgement on the final levels until the ‘Shapers’ for the golf course have completed the work to bring the mounds of top soil (which had been moved to one side at the start of the works) back over the infill material. The Environment Agency Officer was happy that the documentation and records were all in order. I do not have access to the records for review or the delivery logs for materials brought to site”.
So the blame lies squarely at the door of the WLBC Planning Enforcement Officer? Or perhaps not, as the Solicitor has stated “The Council has taken measures to manage relevant arrangements, including employment of suitable enforcement action, where appropriate, to enable those responsible to bring matters within planning control. The Council does not automatically prosecute where a breach of condition notice has not been complied with; in line with requirements it considers each matter on its merits. Officers will continue to monitor the progress of the regularising planning application and may revert to other action, which may include prosecution, should this be necessary”.
So, drop your fag butt and be spotted, guilty as charged. Dump thousands of cubic meters of excess landfill, may include prosecution if charged. Depends on friends in high places? Probably!