WHEN Sandra Hayward and her sister-in-law Maria Hayward stopped for a natter on a park bench they did not expect to be walking away with £150 of fines.
The pair had gone on a day out to Havant from their homes in Leigh Park and sat down for a cigarette.
But instead of putting them in an ashtray, they dropped them on the floor and walked away.
Within seconds a warden handed them a £75 fine for littering.
Sandra, 50, of Dunsbury Way, said: ‘We just couldn’t believe it. We didn’t know what was going on when he came up to us and at first we thought it was a scam. My sister (in-law) is disabled following a stroke and I am a diabetic.
‘Because of that we didn’t even realise we’d dropped the cigarette butts. We tried to explain this to him but he wouldn’t listen. I even offered to pick the cigarette butts up but no. We’ve both been in tears ever since.
‘Neither of us can afford to pay it. Everyone is entitled to one mistake. We would never normally have dropped the cigarettes.
‘They are being too heavy-handed. People should get a warning first.’
But Darren Hopkins, from Kingdom, said zero tolerance is applied to every situation, unless it is an obvious accident.
Each officer wears a CCTV body camera to gather evidence.
More than 250 fines have been handed out over the past three weeks as the council gets tough on litterbugs. Figures released by Havant Borough Council show 248 of the £75 fines were given to people dropping cigarette butts. Three were given for general littering and none has so far been imposed for dog fouling offences.
Earlier this month the council teamed up with private contractor Kingdom to clamp down on people who drop rubbish on the borough’s streets and parks.
Five wardens from Kingdom are on patrol, along with five environment rangers from the council.
Darren Hopkins, a supervisor for Kingdom, told The News: ‘There are no warnings. They would have had to drop the litter and walked away from it – and then we approach them.
‘The £75 is payable within 14 days. It varies from crisp packets, Coke cans, and dog fouling is a big problem.
‘On the whole we’re getting good feedback from the local residents. People are coming up to my officers and saying it is making a difference.
‘If anybody was to drop anything accidentally, we would ask them to pick it up again and show them they’d dropped it.
‘They would not be issued if it was unintentional. It has to be deliberate.’
The scheme has been welcomed by some locals.
Waterlooville resident Malcolm Garbutt said: ‘It’s a very good idea. People don’t litter their homes so I don’t think they should litter the streets. It brings the area down. The fine is very good. It will make them think twice about littering, unless they’re millionaires.’
Gillan Adair, from the Isle of Wight, who was working in Havant for the day while the wardens were on patrol, said: ‘It’s a good thing because it acts as a deterrent more than anything else. The costs to clean up chewing gum to the council is high.’
Council officials say the scheme was well advertised before it was launched.