Comment: Crackdown step in right direction

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THE state of the city’s rubbish-strewn streets in recent months has been crying out for action.

So a crackdown on flytipping with £200 fines being handed out to the culprits would appear to be a significant step in the right direction. And, for the most part, it is exactly that.

There are plenty of examples of flagrant abuse of the city’s bin collection service, with people leaving mattresses and furniture lying on the pavement to rot. There is no sympathy for anyone who behaves like that and gets caught.

A steep fine of £200 is, as city environment leader Councillor Lesley Hinds quite rightly points out, a significant deterrent. Not only is anyone who gets caught out that way likely to never make the same mistake again, but word of these fines will quickly spread, so that friends and neighbours who might have thought about doing the same thing will think twice too.

In general, the city needs to be handing out more of these type of fines, not less. Its plans to send out undercover environmental wardens to target lazy dog owners who let their pets foul in the streets is an excellent one. A similar approach to handing out fines for littering would secure widespread public support.

There are, however, issues which need to be ironed out.

The current situation regarding flytipping cannot be allowed to continue without risking bringing the whole system into disrepute.

There is a world of difference between someone like Carol Wood who leaves a cardboard box next to a full recycling bin and someone who dumps bags of rubbish in their local park.

The city council needs a more robust system for distinguishing between those who unwittingly break the rules – and quite clearly do not deserve to be fined £200 – and those who simply have no respect for their neighbours, the environment or the law.