AN Alton man has been fined more than £1,000 for failing to pay up when caught dropping a cigarette butt in the town centre.

The incident, which occurred on May 19, came just one day after the launch of East Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) zero-tolerance litter enforcement initiative.

The decision by Basingstoke magistrates to fine Dean Coombes, 50, has delighted EHDC whose members feel it sends out a strong message that the authority is serious in its intention and will prosecute people who drop litter.

EHDC recently extended the enforcement scheme which sees litter louts fined £75 for dropping rubbish such as chewing gum, cans, paper, or cigarette butts.

Coombes, of Spitalfields Road, Alton, refused to pay the fine despite being recorded, by a litter enforcement officer, dropping a cigarette butt in Alton High Street.

The district council is committed to keeping the streets clear of litter and unsightly rubbish and prosecuted Coombes through the courts.

Basingstoke Magistrates Court found Coombes guilty at a hearing on December 10 and fined him £220. Coombes was also told to pay costs of £250, a criminal court charge of £520, and a victim surcharge of £22, bringing the total to £1,012.

EHDC’s litter enforcement scheme was launched on May 18 with a six-month trial. By November, the council’s contractors, Kingdom, had issued 870 fines to people dropping litter around East Hampshire.

Richard Millard, the district council’s deputy leader, said the number of fines issued over the first six months of the scheme shows how seriously EHDC is taking littering.

“Littering is an issue that many people in the district feel very strongly about.”

The council spends tens of thousands of pounds a year picking up carelessly discarded litter. That money could be put to much better use.”

He added: “We want to drive the message home that there are no excuses. Dropping any kind of litter, including cigarette butts, will lead to a £75 fine.”