EXCLUSIVE: Stray Ferret reveals not a single litter fine in Harrogate district for past three years
Last updated Dec 3, 2023
Litter in the Pinewoods in 2021.

There has not been a single fine for littering in the Harrogate district over the past three financial years.

The figure was revealed by North Yorkshire Council following a Freedom of Information request by the Stray Ferret after repeated coverage of residents’ concerns about litter.

The council said it is “very fortunate” that most local people choose to do “the right thing” and dispose of their litter responsibly.

It also said dedicating officers to catching and fining people is “very resource intensive” and requires them to “be in the right place at the right time”.

A spokesperson for the council said:

“We have a team who are out every day, in all weathers, keeping the district clean and tidy.

“Dedicating officers to deal with catching and fining people is very resource intensive, and requires us having people in the right place at the right time to catch someone committing an offence within the 505 square miles of what was the Harrogate district.”

The Stray Ferret also asked the council to breakdown any littering fines into specific locations where they were issues – including Harrogate, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Ripon and Nidderdale. The number remained at zero.

Neil Hind, chairperson of Pinewoods Conservation Group, said litter remains a “constant problem” in the Pinewoods area, and feels there is a lack of enforcement locally:

“It seems clear there is no real enforcement undertaken.

“As such we have taken our own direct action with regards to litter within the Pinewoods that has made a noticeable difference.

“We have a committed group of volunteers who regularly collect litter across the woods to keep the area tidy.”

An ongoing problem

The results of our FOI is likely to upset many people in the district.

Throughout 2021, Pinewoods volunteers urged people to “just use a bin” after a rise in littering, while post-covid parties on the Stray left the land carpeted with rubbish.

More recently the council’s decision to reduce the number public waste bins but make them larger, has also caused concern.

In August this year, the Stray Ferret reported on a call for an urgent review of litter bins in the Jennyfields area after reports of dog poo bags piling up.

In July, we reported on a Starbeck community group which gathered to litter-pick after seeing an increase in rubbish around the area.

The issue of litter is a subject that always raises the public’s blood pressure. It’s likely many residents will struggle to accept the council’s approach and be appalled at a total absence of litter fines.

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