Litter makes the area look unattractive. It can also cause further problems like attracting pests.
For many people litter is the most local environmental issue. It is the most widespread blight on our public spaces. It is costing councils half a billion pounds every year to clear it up.
We don't clear litter from privately owned land or from an area outside of the borough. It's a criminal offence to leave litter under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. A person is guilty of the offence if they throw down, drop or leave any litter in a place to which the law applies.
If it is possible, when reporting an issue please provide us with supporting photos.
- If you have found a littering issue, or would to report a full or overflowing bin, contact our Street Cleansing team
- If you have found that a bin has been damaged or vandalised, please contact our Street Maintenance team
Standards and response times
If you report a litter problem on a road or public open space under our control we have a certain amount of time to bring it back to a reasonable condition. Response times can be found in the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Privately owned land
If land is privately owned we can look into enquiries about untidy conditions. We can also investigate whether its condition could affect the wider local area.
If negotiations to fix problems fail, we can take formal action. We do this by serving a Section 215 Notice on the owner or occupier of any land or building whose condition is affecting the local area, particularly within a conservation area. Such a notice requires the person responsible to clean up the site or building, or we can carry out the work and reclaim the cost from the owner.
For more information, see our planning pages.
Penalties for dropping litter
We can issue a range of Fixed Penalty Notices (fines) for offences that can have a negative impact on the local environment.
These include offences relating to not just litter, but also:
In the case of a littering offence we may take a photograph for evidential purposes. However to issue a fine we only have to witness the offence. We may if it's safe and practical to do so pick up the litter. This may at a later date be used as an exhibit should a case go for prosecution.
The fines that we issue for littering are for:
- Depositing litter.
- Failure to comply with street litter notice.
- Failure to comply with a litter clearing notice.
If fines are not paid within 14 days then we can take a prosecution through the Magistrates court. On conviction the maximum fine for this offence is £2,500.
We have a public register that details prosecutions and formal cautions issued in the last three years.
Where serious offences arise or there is a history of non-compliance we may pursue prosecution or formal caution.
Before we take any criminal proceedings in court we have to make sure that it is in the public interest to do so. We may instead offer alleged offenders the chance to admit their guilt and accept a formal caution.
Litter clearing notices
We use litter clearing notice to tackle the issue of litter on any land. It's a useful tool to ensure landowner and/or occupiers keep land tidy and clear of refuse.
Before a notice can be served, we must be satisfied that the land is littered in a manner which is deemed detrimental. The notice is then served on the occupier or owner of the land.
The notice requires the owner or occupier to clear the land of litter. If it's believed the land is likely to become defaced again, they can be required to take reasonable steps to prevent further incidents. Failure to comply with the notice can result in a fine.
We may also enter land for the purposes of clearing it and charge the landowner any costs incurred.
We work with land owners and occupiers to resolve the problems of litter. Litter clearing notices are not intended for people who have become victims of fly-tipping.