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Councils across north and north-east failing to fine people for litter

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Thousands of litter louts in Aberdeen have been caught in the act – but just a handful of fines have been issued in neighbouring authorities.

Aberdeen City Council has collected more than £240,000 from 3,000 people since 2011.

But other local authorities – including many facing budget cuts – have fined just a tiny proportion of litter bugs in the same time period.

Aberdeenshire Council has dished out just five tickets, while Moray Council has given out 27.

Highland Council issued 41 litter fines in the 2010-11 financial year and 35 the following year, but just eight have been given out so far this calendar year and last.

Green councillor Martin Ford said he was “disappointed” in the figures for Aberdeenshire but conceded it was harder to catch people than in an urban area.

He said: “For example on rural roads in Aberdeenshire there is a very considerable litter problem where it is almost impossible to catch people.

“Given the scale of the problem I am disappointed so few fines have been issued.”

Last night, there were calls for the councils – who all employ community wardens, whose role includes investigating litter complaints, dog fouling, flytipping and antisocial behaviour – to do more.

George Niblock, convener of the Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum, said: “The council has a legal obligation to keep the streets clean.

“Across Scotland the expenditure on street cleansing is down by over 27% in the last five years.

“We have to change the behaviour of the public.

“You need four things to achieve this – education, enforcement, campaigning and cleaning the streets.”

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Highlands Green MSP John Finnie added: “Education must be the key driver to improving this blight, however, there’s very clearly an important role for enforcement too.

“Given there’s no local authority that’s unaffected by litter I’d be concerned if the disparity in fines issued represented a lack of enforcement and I’d encourage everyone to redouble their efforts.”

But Moray Council stressed that due to financial pressures, the number of wardens available to tackle litter bugs had been cut.

A spokeswoman said: “Due to budget cuts, the number of community wardens patrolling Moray has reduced and we now have three community wardens covering all of Moray.

“To issue a fixed penalty notice an offender would have to be caught littering by a community warden, or a witness statement would have to be received by another member of the public.

“We would encourage all residents and visitors to Moray to respect our streets and countryside and place litter in a bin or take it home with them to dispose of properly.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of roads, landscape and waste services, Philip McKay, said: “Aberdeenshire Council does issue fixed penalty notices for littering and other antisocial activity, such as dog fouling, where appropriate.

“If a council officer witnesses a case of littering, that person will be given the opportunity to pick up the litter rather than face a fine in the first instance.

“Although additional officers were authorised to serve fixed penalty notices, it can be very difficult to gather the necessary evidence, as people often don’t want to be a witness against someone in their local community.”

A Highland Council spokeswoman added: “The officers routinely involved with litter patrols also carry out many other functions including dog control and investigations into fly-tipping and abandoned vehicles.

“The amount of time that can be committed to litter will vary depending on demands of other work.

“To improve effectiveness in these areas the council is currently reviewing its procedures on litter and its street cleaning strategy.”