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.