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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Fixed penalties tackle graffiti
Graffiti on railway footbridge
Graffiti artists run the risk of an 80 fixed-penalty
New council powers to crack down on environmental crimes and anti-social behaviour such as graffiti, fly-tipping and fly-posting have come into force.

Measures under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 enable local authorities in England and Wales to issue 80 on-the-spot fines.

Regulations targeting people who leave burglar alarms ringing or abandon vehicles are also coming into effect.

The Local Government Association says the act provides more effective powers.

Wider powers

"People want to live in clean, safe and quiet neighbourhoods and councils now have the power to make this happen," the LGA's environment board said.

"For too many years councils have had too little power to tackle the people who blight the local area.

Fines are not the only way to tackle this problem. We need to educate more people against littering

"Local authorities have been asking government for greater power for years and now they have these measures they will use them to literally clean up the streets."

Council enforcement officers already have the ability to issue 50 fixed penalties to people who drop litter or whose dogs foul the pavement.

The new 80 fines will replace those powers and also cover graffiti, fly-tipping, fly-posting, leaflet distribution and waste registration breaches.

Under the act, people who leave a burglar alarm ringing for 20 minutes or create a nuisance by selling or repairing vehicles on the street could face a 100 fine.

Light pollution

Councils could issue 200 fines to people who abandon vehicles.

They will be able to enforce penalties for light pollution - problems caused by obtrusive outdoor lighting - of up to 5,000 for residents or 20,000 for businesses.

And stores may face charges for the recovery of abandoned shopping trolleys.

There will also be new powers enabling councils to restrict access to alleyways affected by anti-social behaviour or crimes such as drug dealing.

80: Litter, fly-tipping, graffiti, leaflet distribution, fly-posting, dog fouling
100: Burglar alarms, 'nuisance' vehicle repairs
200: Abandoning vehicles

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the act was developed following consultation with local authorities and groups affected by environmental quality issues.

And Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said of the measures: "Graffiti is a depressing and unsightly menace in many communities.

"It affects people's quality of life, increases fear of crime and reduces pride in a community. It also costs us all millions of pounds a year to clean up - money which could be better spent on other valuable services.

"Our pilot schemes have shown that private companies are keen to work with local authorities to tackle the problem. The national roll-out of the scheme will benefit many more neighbourhoods across the country."


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