Waltham Forest's categorisation of spitting as litter is questioned Redbridge Borough Council looks to enforce byelaw

Spitting in Waltham Forest is treated as litter

Spitting in Waltham Forest is treated as litter

First published in News
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East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter - Waltham Forest

Redbridge Council could be set to enforce a bylaw prohibiting spitting in the street, but has thrown doubt on the “dubious” approach used in neighbouring Waltham Forest.

Next week leading councillors in Redbridge will consider whether to press ahead with a plan to issue offenders with fines under a threat of prosecution.

However a move last year by Waltham Forest Council to classify spitting as litter in order to issue fines has been questioned after Redbridge Council lawyers concluded it was not legally sound.

Russell Ward, head of environmental services for Redbridge Council, said: “Waltham Forest Council is literally classifying spit as litter.

“We got a legal opinion from our lawyers on this and their view was that, to be perfectly honest, spit cannot be seen this way, so we have decided to take a different approach.

“We have our own local Byelaw. Very much like Enfield we can then issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN).

“Clearly the Waltham Forest approach is rather more dubious because if someone potentially appeal the FPN it’s up to them to determine whether or not spit is litter.”


Mr Ward added that although magistrates have upheld FPNs issued in Waltham Forest, there has not been a serious legal challenge to the approach.

He said: “Why go on something that hasn’t been tested?

“There has been no argument in Waltham Forest and the courts took their favour.

“If someone appealed and took a very clever barrister I feel that the court may uphold that argument.”

Redbridge Council’s cabinet will make a decision on whether to conduct a public consultation on the issue and the byelaw could be enforced as early as summer this year.

Waltham Forest Council has been asked to comment.

Comments (5)

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12:14pm Tue 1 Apr 14

Villagecranberry says...

They can hardly deal with people littering the streets so how are they going to enforce this?

Only last week they announced that they were to pay over 12 K to 'deep clean' the pavements as there thousands of pieces of chewing gum.

It will never work trying to enforce this proposed law as the type of people who spit would not bother to provide details or pay any fine.
They can hardly deal with people littering the streets so how are they going to enforce this? Only last week they announced that they were to pay over 12 K to 'deep clean' the pavements as there thousands of pieces of chewing gum. It will never work trying to enforce this proposed law as the type of people who spit would not bother to provide details or pay any fine. Villagecranberry
  • Score: 12

6:46pm Tue 1 Apr 14

Howard Wolowitz says...

A council spokesperson said it is enough to make you spit.
A council spokesperson said it is enough to make you spit. Howard Wolowitz
  • Score: -3

11:33pm Tue 1 Apr 14

mdj says...

'“Why go on something that hasn’t been tested? '

Because Mr Loakes was desperate to be the first in the country to have an anti-spitting bylaw, even if it meant bending the English language, not to mention the law.
I asked him about this at a Ward Forum, just before the first court case, and he said it was simply a matter of redefining bodily waste as 'litter'.
I asked him when local authorities gained the power to redefine the legal meaning of common English words, and the answer was rather vague.

No report on the three cases to date on this point have made clear whether the accused - none of whom seem to have been native English speakers, or even aware that they had strayed into a zone where different rules of language applied - had been legally represented, or even appeared at the hearing.
It's not clear whether this striking innovation in legal terminology was even raised in court: JP's are amateurs, and a docile clerk of the court might not realise that a try-on was being attempted.

It's good to hear other voices questioning this dubious attention-seeking power grab.
'“Why go on something that hasn’t been tested? ' Because Mr Loakes was desperate to be the first in the country to have an anti-spitting bylaw, even if it meant bending the English language, not to mention the law. I asked him about this at a Ward Forum, just before the first court case, and he said it was simply a matter of redefining bodily waste as 'litter'. I asked him when local authorities gained the power to redefine the legal meaning of common English words, and the answer was rather vague. No report on the three cases to date on this point have made clear whether the accused - none of whom seem to have been native English speakers, or even aware that they had strayed into a zone where different rules of language applied - had been legally represented, or even appeared at the hearing. It's not clear whether this striking innovation in legal terminology was even raised in court: JP's are amateurs, and a docile clerk of the court might not realise that a try-on was being attempted. It's good to hear other voices questioning this dubious attention-seeking power grab. mdj
  • Score: 2

11:35am Wed 2 Apr 14

e17neighbour says...

This one will never go away as Cllr Clyde Loakes took it upon himself to reinterpret the definition of waste. At the time this was brought in, a central government spokesperson confirmed through a Freedom of Information request that Local Authorities cannot do this without seeking written application to do so to be granted permission to do so. Waltham Forest did not do this. Which means, the ban and fine are both illegal. It is not to say that the principle of banning spitting & fining is wrong. But it is to say that this local council is not following due process, making rules up as they please, circumventing central government as and when it suits them.

Funny how they will circumvent some central government legislation, yet on others, are quick to blame central government and say 'there is nothing they can do'. For example the vast sways of illegal extensions that blight the borough, which some may or may not fall within permitted development new guidelines issued by central government.. My experience when I report illegal extensions is that LBWF washes their hands off following up on individual cases when brought to the enforcement department's attention, saying the rules for permitted development have changed now so we cannot enforce. Even though they can. So it comes down to selective enforcement that answers the question: what is low cost to us, which will raise a quick buck
This one will never go away as Cllr Clyde Loakes took it upon himself to reinterpret the definition of waste. At the time this was brought in, a central government spokesperson confirmed through a Freedom of Information request that Local Authorities cannot do this without seeking written application to do so to be granted permission to do so. Waltham Forest did not do this. Which means, the ban and fine are both illegal. It is not to say that the principle of banning spitting & fining is wrong. But it is to say that this local council is not following due process, making rules up as they please, circumventing central government as and when it suits them. Funny how they will circumvent some central government legislation, yet on others, are quick to blame central government and say 'there is nothing they can do'. For example the vast sways of illegal extensions that blight the borough, which some may or may not fall within permitted development new guidelines issued by central government.. My experience when I report illegal extensions is that LBWF washes their hands off following up on individual cases when brought to the enforcement department's attention, saying the rules for permitted development have changed now so we cannot enforce. Even though they can. So it comes down to selective enforcement that answers the question: what is low cost to us, which will raise a quick buck e17neighbour
  • Score: 2

2:21pm Wed 2 Apr 14

driftingcowboy says...

Whilst I applaud LBWF for counting spitting as 'litter', the fact remains that there is no serious intent on enforcing the law - just as there is no serious intent on enforcing the littering laws. They don't have the resources or know-how to seriously tackle the problem. All we've had to date is a handful of foreign nationals who probably couldn't organise a good solicitor, getting a fine for spitting. Just a handful, yet everyday I walk past dozens of gobs of spittle!
The council simply don't have the teeth (if you'll pardon the pun) for this piece of enforcement.
Whilst I applaud LBWF for counting spitting as 'litter', the fact remains that there is no serious intent on enforcing the law - just as there is no serious intent on enforcing the littering laws. They don't have the resources or know-how to seriously tackle the problem. All we've had to date is a handful of foreign nationals who probably couldn't organise a good solicitor, getting a fine for spitting. Just a handful, yet everyday I walk past dozens of gobs of spittle! The council simply don't have the teeth (if you'll pardon the pun) for this piece of enforcement. driftingcowboy
  • Score: 1

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