Drivers caught dropping litter from their vehicles will be hit with a £150 fine as council bosses approved a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to the problem.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s neighbourhood service committee unanimously passed plans to hand out the fines after it was reported around 200 tonnes of rubbish was collected from roadsides each year.
The £150 payment, reduced to £100 if paid within seven days, was the harshest fine available to be installed by the council.
New government legislation allows local authorities to issue fines through the post to the registered keeper of the vehicles where rubbish has been seen to be thrown from it.
Committee chair Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, speaking at the meeting, said: “I’m pleased members are supporting this option.
“As a local authority we have to take a zero tolerance approach.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable the equivalent of 200 household bins are being dumped in the street each year.
“It is a drain on resources and a burden on the local authority.”
People will be charged if they are found ‘on the balance of probability’ to have been caught dropping litter from their vehicle.
Evidence to convict people of the civil offence will be mainly made up from statements and photographic evidence, the meeting heard.
Council bosses said they receive approximately 750 roadside litter complaints a year and it costs them more than £50,000 to collect and dispose of the litter.
They said this is funding that could otherwise be utilised to help protect front line services that are ‘valuable to communities’.
Coun Brenda Loynes, speaking at the meeting, said: “I wholeheartedly support this.
“Littering is getting out of hand, especially in rural areas.
“People throwing litter out of their car windows, it’s just ridiculous.”
Coun Marjorie James also suggested at the meeting the council should look to increase fixed penalty notices for littering, which currently sits at £75, to the same level.
A review will be presented to the council after six months to allow them to assess how the crackdown is working.
Philip Hepburn, council community safety operations manager, said he does not expect a significant amount of revenue to come from the fines, and it will act as ‘more of a deterrent’ for offenders.
However any income receipts from penalties charges will only be spent on functions relating to litter, refuse and supported enforcement.
Mr Hepburn said: “It is going to have a beneficial effect on the visual appearance of roads in our area.”
A report put forward for the committee before the meeting stated there was evidence ‘littering from vehicles is a significant issue in Hartlepool’.
Concerns were also raised failure to adopt the new powers of enforcement would have continued to impact on the resources of the cleansing services team.
Councillors also suggested at the meeting advertisements be put on waste lorries and throughout the town warning people of the new tougher legislation.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service