A plan to fine people for spitting in the street has been approved by leading councillors.

Redbridge council will now consult the public on enforcing an existing bylaw by issuing fines of up to £500 for the offence.

The proposal must be sanctioned by Secretary of State for communities, Eric Pickles, who recently approved a similar scheme in Enfield.

Under the plan, which was approved by the council’s cabinet at Redbridge Town Hall last night, enforcement officers will issue fixed penalty notices for those caught spitting on the ground.

Cabinet member of planning and public protection, Cllr Ruth Clark, said: “Spitting in public is disgraceful and a real health and safety hazard, spreading viruses and TB, so this is a very good thing to bring in.

“We are going ahead with public consultation on this but from what we have heard it is a very popular move.

“I have lived in Redbridge most of my life and this problem has really increased in the last few years. I do not remember seeing any of it 10 or 15 years ago.

“It may take some time for the law to have an effect, but with power to fine up to £500, it will hopefully sink in with people in the borough.”

Waltham Forest council last year classified spitting as litter in order to issue fines of up to £80, but Redbridge council lawyers concluded this was not a legally sound approach and have chosen to use a byelaw instead.