£80 fine for spitting in London’s streets set to come into force next month

Critics say they are worried about how the law would be enforced

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The Independent Online

People who spit on the street in London could be given an £80 fine as early as next month after the capital’s borough councils approved the new penalty.

Officials discussed the plan at a meeting of the transport and environment committee of the London Councils organisation on Thursday.

The councils said they had notified the communities department and that the power would be automatically available to all of London’s councils in a month’s time if ministers raised no objection.

The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has previously given the green light to similar measures, and gave powers to the London Borough of Enfield to fight the practice last year.

"Spitting is a deeply anti-social and unpleasant practice. Spitting on Britain's streets is not socially acceptable,” he said at the time. "In light of the cross-party support and backing of ruling and opposition groups, we are giving the go-ahead to new powers”.

Under the plan agreed, if the new London-wide fine is paid was paid within two weeks it would be reduced to £50.

While the new rule would apply across all London’s local authorities, it would be the responsibility of individual councils to enforce the regulations and issue the fixed penalty notices.

Waltham Forest and Newham councils have already been issuing fixed penalty notices to people who spit in public under powers granted to them in environmental regulations. The validity of this approach has been confirmed in court.

In September London Councils launched a six-week consultation on the plan, to which the organisation received largely positive responses.

The consultation was open to all, but only 23 members of the public responded compared to the 25 borough councils who voiced their views.

Some critics of the plans said they were worried that it might be difficult to enforce the new restriction, that the case had not been made for issuing fines, and that councils were trying to make money by charging offenders.

London Councils is an umbrella group that represents all of the capital’s 32 borough councils.

Most local government functions are devolved to borough-level in the city, but decisions are sometimes made together by all boroughs using London Councils as a forum.

The organisation is separate from the Greater London Authority (GLA), which is controlled by the Mayor.

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