EAST Hampshire District Council (EHDC) has taken 14 people to court for non-payment of fines after being caught dropping litter – and each one has been ordered to pay £639 as a consequence of their actions.

The cases came before Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court on April 6 and featured prosecutions brought by EHDC against three people who were issued fines for dropping litter in Alton, eight in Petersfield, two in Horndean, and one in Whitehill and Bordon.

The action has served to reinforce a message from EHDC that “if you drop litter in East Hampshire, you can expect to be fined”.

Keeping the district litter free is one of the council’s top priorities.

It has empowered enforcement officers with the ability to issue on-the-spot £80 fines to anyone dropping rubbish, including cigarette butts and chewing gum.

Those caught littering are given two weeks to pay, with extensions offered if needed, but face a court summons if they persistently refuse.

On April 6, the court ordered each of the 14 defendants to pay £639, consisting of an increased fine of £440, a £44 victim surcharge, and £155 costs. As well as the fine, each person now has a criminal record. Of this money, EHDC receives £155 to cover its court costs.

Natalie Meagher, head of neighbourhood support at EHDC, said: “Litter is a major issue for many residents of the district and we all want to live in a clean and litter-free environment.

“Those who litter but do not pay will be brought to court where they may have to pay much more than the £80 imposed by our litter-enforcement officers and will have a criminal record.

“EHDC only takes people to court as a last resort. Anyone that is caught littering is given a number of opportunities to pay before we eventually take that step, but the message is simple – if you drop litter in East Hampshire, then you can expect to pay a fine.”

East Hampshire District Council employs four litter-enforcement officers who patrol town centres and other areas where litter has been reported as a problem.

The council also provides litter enforcement for neighbouring authorities.

Each officer carries ID and a portable camera. The camera is only turned on after the offence has been committed in order to record the subsequent conversation. This is to protect both the officer and the individual and can be used as evidence in court if required.

On-the-spot fines can be issued for any litter deliberately left in any public place but the officer is not allowed to take payment at that time. Payment is made subsequently to the council, either over the phone or at Penns Place, Petersfield.

People who wish to appeal against their fine, or would like more information about the service, should call EHDC on 01730 234131.