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Litter Action Week found people smoking inside Cumbernauld town centre, as council clamp down on litter bugs

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 13:15 GMT on Friday, June 21st, 2013.

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People were found smoking inside the shopping centre. Image is copyright of Scott Campbell/ Cumbernauld Media.

BIN it, don’t drop it; North Lanarkshire Council have warned that people throwing litter to the ground will be fined on the spot.

Cigarette butts, takeaway wrappers, crisp bags, cans and cartons, newspapers, ATM slips and chewing gum are just some of the items dropped on North Lanarkshire streets every day, but now North Lanarkshire Council has had enough of spending £9 million a year on clean-up costs, and the authority has warned that rogue litter bugs face an on the spot fine of £50 if they are caught dropping their rubbish. 

"Dropping litter is an offence and we take a zero tolerance approach to it," says Councillor Helen McKenna, Convener of the Environmental Services Committee.

The council’s warning follows National Litter Day of Action, earlier this month, when council officials took to the streets to combat North Lanarkshire’s litter bugs.

Cllr McKenna added: "Our Environmental Protection Officers are out and about in communities every day and if they see anyone dropping rubbish, they will issue a fixed penalty notice. It's that simple. There is absolutely no excuse for littering as you're never more than a minute or two away from a bin.

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"During Keep Scotland Beautiful's National Litter Day of Action on 4 June our officers were patrolling communities across North Lanarkshire with Police Scotland officers to highlight the problem of litter. But we want people to think about it every day - always put your litter in the bin and keep our streets safe and clean."

On the day of action council officers issued 35 fixed penalty notices to people who dropped litter and, in Cumbernauld three notices to people smoking inside the shopping centre.

A Keep Scotland Beautiful survey showed that more than half of Scots have dropped litter, and almost half do it regularly. A national recording programme found litter in 80% of the sites it visited. And it found cigarette butts on 70% of the streets it visited - each one takes 12 years to decompose.

Cigarette butts are particularly difficult to clean up and can cause blockages in drains which, in turn, creates more problems which can be expensive to repair. Free butt boxes, for disposing of cigarette ends, can be picked up from the council's offices at 453 Main Street, Coatbridge.

According to the charity, the result of littering is not simply visually disturbing. Socially, there is a proven link between environmental incivilities and the fear of crime; people feel safer in cleaner communities. Our health is affected too, with higher levels of depression, illness and medical interventions amongst people who live in areas that are not clean.

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