LITTER louts who have strewn rubbish across Sheffield’s parks and green spaces are facing fines - after the issue was highlighted by The Star.
Sheffield Council today vowed to ‘get tough’ after masses of empty beer cans, plastic bottles, disposable barbecues and food waste were dumped at sites from Endcliffe Park and Millhouses Park to Devonshire Green.
Street cleaners have been out every morning during the warm weather, clearing the rubbish left behind.
Even at Chatsworth House workers have filled two skips full of rubbish left in the stately home’s ground at the weekend.
Now officials are to be sent out around Sheffield on bikes to hand out fines.
City centre ambassadors are to be trained to issue fixed penalty notices, and the council is to speak to police to ask if PCSOs can also issue penalties.
Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for environment, told The Star: “It’s time to get tough.
“Like many people, I’m angered and saddened by recent episodes. Leaving rubbish is unhygienic, thoughtless and selfish.
“I’m not going to allow a very small minority to ruin our spaces for everyone else. We want to crack down on this quickly to stop it getting worse.”
The council’s toughened stance, which also extends to dog dirt and litter dropped in the street, was welcomed today.
Huwy Barber, manager of Endcliffe Park Cafe, said: “It sounds like a great idea. The park has been left in a mess all the time in this hot weather but I think if people know they could get a fine it could make them think twice.
“The park staff do an excellent job of clearing up, but extra action would be great news.”
John Brighton, secretary of The Friends of Millhouses Park, added: “I think it’s an excellent plan. On Monday morning alone 56 bags of rubbish were collected by park staff - a huge amount of litter.
“It’s time for a change - people should get used to putting their rubbish in the bin or taking it away with them.”
Father-of-two Martyn Civil, a policeman from Nether Green whose beat area includes Endcliffe Park, agreed. “I’d certainly welcome the people who drop litter being taught a lesson,” he said.
Coun Scott said: “I am instructing council officers to look at what training City Ambassadors need to issue fixed penalty notices, and we would also like to get the police on board with PCSOs issuing fines.
“We need to look at the feasibility of taking action and how much it would cost, but we want to look at what the council can do to stamp out this problem.
“Sheffield is rightly known as the greenest city in England. Thousands of people use our green spaces every day, my family included. Most people act responsibly and take their litter home with them.”
Sheffield Council had previously adopted a softer stance than neighbouring authorities, preferring to ‘educate’ rather than fine offenders.
In 2010/11 the council issued just 87 fixed penalty fines and took out 13 prosecutions for littering, and four fines for dog fouling. Neighbouring Doncaster Council, however, issued 3,000 fines.
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WHAT THE COUNCIL IS PLANNING
■ Enforcement officers being sent out on bicycles, expanding the area they can patrol
■ Exploring with South Yorkshire Police allowing PCSOs to issue fines for littering and dog fouling
■ Providing training to City Centre Ambassadors and wardens to increase capacity to take enforcement action.
■ Asking park Friends Groups to come forward with evidence to assist with enforcement action
■ Examining whether disposable barbecues should be banned in public spaces - they can scorch the grass beneath for a whole season, and are often dumped while still lit in park bins, starting fires
■ Investigating whether officials can work with other councils across South Yorkshire to speed up response times to deal with large amounts of rubbish, and sharing staff when there is a lot of mess in one place.