It was good to read that Redbridge are looking to follow our lead in seeking to introduce a ban on spitting. While they have chosen the bylaw route, I nevertheless applaud the fact they are addressing this disgusting habit and feel confident that they will find they have the same high levels of support from their residents as we do.
There is however some misinformation that needs clearing up, not least the suggestion that introducing a bylaw will mean that Redbridge will be able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs), “much like Enfield”.
A bylaw does not allow councils to issue FPNs and instead means that in each and every case a prosecution must be brought. This is an important point because obviously the associated legal expenses and officer time required to prepare a case is not inconsiderable.
It was one of the principle reasons we did not opt to go down that path as we wanted a quick, efficient and immediate sanction that would utilise the enforcement officers we have out already patrolling the borough.
Similarly I am very dubious of the suggestion Redbridge might have their bylaw up and running by this summer. It took Enfield the best part of three years and as I understand it they have still not prosecuted anyone.
Finally, we have not taken it upon ourselves to decide that spit is litter. There is no statutory definition of what “litter” is and the DEFRA Code of Practice states specifically that it is open to interpretation by the courts. So, for example, councils class dog mess as litter and issue FPNs accordingly.
The three spitting cases we have taken to court have led to successful prosecutions and increased fines on each occasion. That seems to me a pretty clear interpretation by the courts.
Councillor Clyde Loakes, deputy leader, Waltham Forest council, and cabinet member for environment