COUNCIL chiefs hope dedicated patrols who will issue fines to litterbugs will help tackle the blight of rubbish in Weymouth town centre.

As previously reported, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is bringing in a private environmental enforcement firm to help tidy up the town in a pilot scheme.

Patrol officers, who will wear body cameras, will be issuing £75 fines to anyone caught dropping litter including cigarette ends, allowing their dogs to foul, or those spraying graffiti. They will also target traders who fail to make sure that rubbish is stored and disposed of correctly.

The patrols were due to start in the autumn but this was pushed back until this month. However the Echo understands the actual start date won’t be for a couple of weeks yet.

However, the council is eager for the patrols to start as part of its drive to clean up the town. It is estimated that about 7 per cent of litter produced in Weymouth is thrown on the ground. This initiative aims to drive that percentage down.

The council revealed:

  • People throw down about half a ton of litter every week in the town centre
  • Clearing this litter from the town centre and beach costs the public 'a lot of money'. In the summer, there are five people constantly employed in cleaning up this area from 6am to 7pm. This money could be used for other valued public services
  • Last winter a specialist team worked hard to rid town centre pavements of chewing gum, but litterbugs are already spoiling their efforts
  • Littering is caused by an 'irresponsible minority'. Hotspots have been identified in town and enforcement officers will be looking out for them there
  • Worst types of littering are dog fouling, cigarette butts, and chewing gum
  • There are more than 100 litter bins in Weymouth town centre. There is no excuse for not using them
  • Two men are occupied full time in the borough emptying these bins three times a day in the summer. The council collects an average of one tonne of refuse every day of the year from these bins

If approached by a patrol officer, offenders will be asked to provide personal details. Failure to comply could result in a criminal prosecution, which carries a fine of up to £1,000.