Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Smoker Fined For Dropping Cigarette Butt Down Drain

A Mother-of-two has spoken of her anger after being hit with a £40 on-the-spot fine for dropping her cigarette down a drain. Wendy Chapman, who was working in Ilkeston when she was caught, believes Erewash Borough Council was heavy-handed with its punishment. But the authority says it has a zero tolerance attitude to dropping cigarettes and that the stub could have damaged the drain. The fine could increase to £75 if it is not paid before Friday, October 12. Mrs Chapman, 35, said she would have challenged the fine in court but she was not in a financial position to do so. She said: "Obviously, with two children I can't afford to see the fine increase. Unless it gets revoked, I'll have to pay it. "If my money situation had been different, I would have waited for my case to be heard by magistrates." The barmaid had been working at the Sir John Warren pub in Ilkeston Market Place on Friday when she was caught dropping the cigarette by an Erewash Borough Council litter warden. Mrs Chapman said: "I was standing outside the pub having a smoke during my afternoon break when the street warden saw me drop it in the drain."I would have thought he could have given me a warning, but he insisted that I would have to be fined. "I don't think putting it down a drain should have caused any problems. It's better than setting a bin on fire." Mrs Chapman said the decision was ironic because she recycled and had always taught her children, Zach, 16, and Dale, 12, to put their rubbish in a bin. She said: "I would never let them drop trash in the street. They've always been told to carry it to the nearest bin." Phillip Wright, acting director of neighbourhood services at Erewash Borough Council, said the authority would not tolerate environmental crime. He said: "People may think that because they have always thrown their cigarette ends in a drain, there is nothing wrong. "Cigarette ends are not biodegradable and should be stubbed out and then disposed of properly in a bin, rather than contaminating our drains." A spokesman for Derby City Council's waste management department said the fine would most probably have been the same had a similar offence been committed in the city. He said: "That's the punishment if the offence of littering is found to have been committed. "Cigarette littering is a growing problem, which we and Erewash Borough Council are challenged to deal with. "It's a question of proportionality. Litter wardens have to use some judgement when deciding whether to issue on-the-spot fines."