Croydon’s big butt: £1,145 fines for dropping cigarettes

Is Croydon’s Labour council’s “Don’t Mess With Croydon” campaign against fly-tippng beginning to run out of momentum?

Is Croydon Council matching its sloganising with effective action on the state of the streets?

Is Croydon Council matching its sloganising with effective action on the state of the streets?

The propaganda unit in Fisher’s Folly has issued its latest bulletin on the number of prosecutions on the council’s “get tough” strategy, announcing that they have now prosecuted 123 people in the last two years.

But of the nine people up before the beak earlier this week, four of them were being prosecuted for the relatively trivial offence of dropping a cigarette butt.

Cleaning up the streets of Croydon was a key manifesto commitment by Tony Newman’s Labour group in 2014, but despite a lot of slogans, T-shirts and bold statements, there’s growing concern among some Labour councillors that the council’s enforcement team and contractors, Veolia, have not made enough real improvements.

“The council says it is tough on fly-tippers, and they have made a lot of prosecutions, including impounding vehicles for several of the worst offenders – the cowboy operators who go door-to-door and charge residents to remove their bulk rubbish, and then just dump it illegally when they think they’re not being watched,” one back-bencher from a litter-strewn ward in the north of the borough said today.

“But when four out of nine convictions are for cigarette butts, it’s beginning to look like the council is trying to bulk up its prosecution figures. People will see through that, especially when the austerity cuts mean that their streets are not being swept or kept as clean as they have a right to expect.”

Another £350 fine: it's a nasty habit, but it hardly ranks as fly-tipping

Another £350 fine: it’s a nasty habit, but it hardly ranks as fly-tipping

Offenders were handed fines and costs totalling £2,865 at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday. But £1,145 of that came from four cigarette butt offences, with three people fined £350 each.

And with no apparent reduction in some people’s willingness to act anti-socially in dumping their household waste on the streets, and council contractors busy chasing after the latest night-time dumpers, the council is increasingly turning to groups of volunteers to do the jobs which residents pay their Council Tax for.

“So far, the campaign has also encouraged 309 locals to lead over 100 community litter picks,” the council boasts, apparently unconcerned that such worthy activities only further serve to highlight the inadequacies of their contractors’ performance.

Stuart Collins, the cabinet member in charge of the clean streets campaign, meanwhile maintains the mantra: “Fly-tipping and littering on our streets is unacceptable and these prosecutions show we will take action against offenders who ignore the law and blight our borough.”

Collins does still, at least, have the help of a telephone hotline for residents to report fly-tipping, despite some within the council having wanted to drop the service as part of the cost-cutting “online only” strategy, forcing people to use the council website, which would often result in no report being filed at all.

Reports of fly-tipping (or even cigaratte butt dropping apparently), can also be emailed to

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6 Responses to Croydon’s big butt: £1,145 fines for dropping cigarettes

  1. croydonres says:

    Picking on people who drop a cigarette end over £1000 seems hugely unfair and disproportionate. An easy win– as DNA evidence is easy peasy. If the UK Government really cared about litter, it would place a deposit on cans and bottles –and have machines in every supermarket to take in the bottles and cans–and pay out the deposit.
    Yes, they do this in Germany.
    Near where I live in Cousdon there is a place where a street drinker sits, leaving exactly the same brand of beer can– there are scores of them, all in one spot. Likewise, at a certain alleyway the cans are dropped almost every night of the week–probably by just one or two drinkers as they walk up the hill on the way home, as these are always of the same two brands.
    Railway embankments adjacent to railway platforms and over-bridges are covered with cans and glass and plastic bottles.
    The deposit system would eliminate all these items–so why don’t politicians follow the German example? Could it be that they are lazy?

  2. Cliff Colvin says:

    I think the majority of people do try and use bins whilst out but there are not enough bins and ones that are about are not emptied regularly.

    Walking down North End and into London Rd daily I noticed every bin is always filled to the rim with excess rubbish surrounding them.The newish entrance to East Croydon Station in Caithness Walk (where did that name come from?) has a bin which has been sealed since it was installed.

    I like the new street furniture dotted about the borough but they need bigger or more bins nearby.

  3. croydonres says:

    I have also noticed that bins in South End, and in Purley and Coulsdon are overflowing by Friday night, so need to be emptied on Friday night to avoid litter filled weekends.

    I must email the council and find out if they can address this.

    • There is one bin on South End that was spilling over with crap and grot for three weeks, unemptied.

      With so many fast food shops on our high streets, these street bins are a health hazard, attracting vermin, if they are not emptied on a daily basis.

      Is that even in the council contractors’ schedule?

  4. davidjl2014 says:

    Simple. Employ more people to empty the bins. Teach kids in schools not to be untidy and use advertising methods aimed at anti-social adults to respect our environment. This might go some way towards solving the problem.

    But the more serious issue is chewing gum. just look at the pavements and the bottom of your shoes. Cigarette ends can be swept up cheaply with a man and a broom. Chewing gum ingrained on our streets costs a lot more money to remove, which is why it remains… everywhere.

    I’d like to think that these ridiculous fines imposed for discarding a cigarette butt ended up going towards removing it, but I very much doubt it does.

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