Pupils to be fined for dropping litter
SCHOOLCHILDREN in the Moorlands could be hauled before the courts and fined thousands of pounds for dropping litter.
The district council is cracking down on young litter louts in response to complaints from the public about the menace, which is blighting areas around some schools.
Until now the authority has taken a softly-softly approach to schoolchildren dropping pop cans, crisp packets and chewing gum.
But it is now to adopt a get-tough stance, which could lead to young offenders facing prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500 if they do not pay the initial £80 penalty within 14 days.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The approach is favoured by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which says the clean-up operation is costing councils half a billion pounds annually.
Currently offenders aged 16 or 17 in the Moorlands receive an on-the-spot fine, but 10 to 15-year-olds escape with a reprimand and an Acceptable Behaviour Contract for repeat offences.
In future they could also be fined and taken to court, although they will first be given the chance to take part in a litter pick in lieu of payment.
Schools could also be forced to take action by improving pupils' environmental education and parents of offenders will receive warning notices.
But the stance has been condemned by Sam Hale, pictured below, who represents the young people of the Moorlands on the Youth Parliament.
He said the council should get its act together and provide more litter bins before clamping down on young people.
He is a student at the Moorlands Sixth Form Centre, in Cheadle, but formerly attended Painsley Roman Catholic College, which provides its own bins.
He said: "A lot of my constituents have complained about the lack of bins, especially in Cheadle town centre.
"I think this is a little harsh, young people cannot afford to pay fixed penalty tickets."
But mother-of-three Janice Cooper, a pre-school practioner, of Cauldon Lowe, welcomed the move. She said: "I think it is a good idea. I have brought my children up not to drop litter."
Her son, Mark, aged 11, is a pupil at St Edward's Junior High School in Leek.
At his school the class which picks up the most litter is rewarded by being allowed in first for lunch.
Mark said: "I would not be scared of getting a fixed penalty notice because I don't drop litter."
District council executive director Andrew Stokes said: "Ultimately, it is hoped that the possibility of receiving a fixed penalty notice will act as a deterrent and that few, if any, cases will escalate to failure to pay and therefore subsequent attendance at a magistrates' court."
The council has issued 47 on-the-spot fines under powers that came into force four years ago as part of the Clean Neighbourhood Environmental Act 2005.
They have been handed out to people who dropped litter – including cigarette ends – as well as to dog owners who failed to clean up after their pets.