Agenda item

Executive Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services: Councillor Andrew Sully

To consider updates from Executive Councillor for Environmental Services, Councillor Andrew Sully


3.2 of the Scrutiny Terms of Reference state that the Scrutiny Committee may review and scrutinise and ask questions of the Leader, lead Councillors, the Executive in relation to their portfolios.


Supported by:-


Stuart Noyce – Assistant Director – Commercial Services

Emma Matthews – Partnership Manager East Hampshire Commercial Services (Litter Enforcement Partnership)



Cllr Andrew Sully introduced the first item as Portfolio Holder for the Environment. This was an update on the Litter Enforcement Strategy.  


A short presentation was carried out by Emma Matthews (E Hants Partnership Manager) via Zoom. The slides can be viewed here.


The key points from the presentation were:- 

·        Main source of littering (498 out of 504 occasions) was due to tossing of cigarette butts. 

·        There was currently a 70% collection rate on the fines. After the initial 3 month introductory period, the non-payers were now moving on to court proceedings for recovery. 

·        There is a heavy emphasis on education to encourage changing behaviour. (Some people didn’t realise that tossing a cigarette butt counted as littering). The LES were working with organisations to promote a better understanding of littering. Also distributing stubby pouches so that cigarettes could be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly way. 

·        The delivery of the LES was cost neutral as the staff were paid from the fixed penalties. There were also unforeseen benefits in the fact that people took more of a pride in their neighbourhoods, other crimes could be prevented/ reported and the enforcement officers were a visible presence. 

·        160 bins have now been fitted with stub out plates so that smokers are encouraged to dispose of their cigarettes in the litter bins. 

·        The procedure for enforcement is that under the Environment Protection Act of 1987, littering is seen as walking away from left litter or throwing it on the floor. Officers will engage with an offender and details will be taken in order to issue a fixed penalty. On 5 occasions, the police have had to be called to assist. 

·        Despite the penalties, it is not unknown for there to be repeat offences. This is why education is very important. 

·        In the Enforcement areas there has been a 60% reduction in littering. 

Questions and comments arising included:- 

·        There was surprise that cigarette butts contributed to the main source of littering.  There was a general perception that it would have been more focussed on fast food outlets and takeaways where littering was prevalent. Most enforcement was carried out on foot in the main areas Mon-Fri. 

·        It was asked if the areas and times could be extended to include fast food outlets and weekend working. Hot spots can be reported so that patrols can then target those areas. Important to note however, that the patrols are carried out on foot, and it is difficult to take particulars for a vehicle unless the licence plate is taken. 

·        It was deemed that the trial was proving successful in that it was cost neutral and was providing a deterrent to littering. Education is better than enforcement and encouraging people to dispose of their litter sensibly was a greater benefit. 

·        It was asked if the trial could be extended to include dog-fouling? Despite the general consensus of support, dog fouling legislation is completely different from the Environmental Protection Act. It is unlikely in the lifetime remaining of SWT, that this will be addressed, but it will definitely need to be looked at in the future. 


Other areas of business 

·        Warren Road Drainage, Minehead Seafront. Despite an assurance that this work had started, the drains remain blocked and no contractor has been on site? Steve Hughes took responsibility and said that he had provided the Portfolio update for Full Council in good faith, expecting to meet the contractor on site that day. Unfortunately, due to various reasons this had not then taken place. They were trying to work out a solution, but in the event of the contractor being unable to complete the work, an alternative contractor would be employed. 

·        It was asked who organised the work for the Environmental team who had been weeding and clearing SWT areas? How was the weeding done? Did the Council spray areas with weedkiller? The Environmental team was organised by Darren Hill (Parks and Open Spaces). It was a 2-man team who had some capacity in their workload to undertake this work. They had been working in SWT car parks and leisure centres to generally tidy up areas. They removed the weeds manually. Any spraying that was required was undertaken by a sub-contractor. 

·        The Blue Anchor Defence Scheme – How long was the Scheme expected to protect the integrity of the road? The rock armour that was being shipped into Blue Anchor was expected to last from 50-100 years and hopefully into perpetuity. (Certainly, beyond the lifetime of most people!) 

·        “Watchet Weeders” and other volunteer groups. These groups were now looking to re-start their work back in the community following being stood down due to COVID. Who did they need to liaise with in the Council? Darren Hill said he was the person to contact. Community Engagement is vitally important and SWT relies on the Friends and Volunteer Groups to assist with the maintenance of parks and open spaces. Their contribution is extremely valuable, 


Supporting documents: