A WIRRAL man has spoken of his shock after he was given a £60 fine for littering after a bookmark fell out of his book as he left work in Birkenhead.

David Ellis, from Liscard, had just finished his shift at Faiveley Transport on Thursday afternoon when he was handed the fine - which goes up to £80 if it is not paid within 10 days - following what he says was a “genuine accident”.

The 62-year-old told the Globe he wasn’t even aware he had dropped the bookmark until he was approached by the litter enforcement officer from Kingdom Ltd - hired by Wirral Council as part of their “zero-tolerance” crackdown on litter louts.

“It was a windy day and I was on my way out of work and had my book in my hands – the bookmark just dropped out,” said David.

“This lady came up to me and said ‘Do you know you’ve just thrown something on the floor?’ I said I hadn’t thrown anything and then she pointed to the bookmark.

“I said ‘I didn’t throw it, I just dropped it’ I didn’t even see it. She then told me I’d broken an Environmental Act and I’d committed an offence and gave me the fixed penalty notice of £60.”

Wirral Globe:
David Ellis, who was issued with a fine for littering after his bookmark fell out his book. Picture by Geoff Davies.

David said he was “infuriated” to receive the fine which oddly states it was issued for a dropped cigarette end.

“I don’t even smoke. That’s the laughable thing. Apart from the pantomime of what happened, when I checked the fine and saw what it say – it’s just nonsense.”

David added: “I told her I didn’t deliberately drop the bookmark on the floor. I’d already put my stuff in the car, including the book, when she came up to me.

“If she’d have said ‘You’ve dropped that’ I would have said that I needed it because I do to mark my book – they’re just looking for an easy target.”

A spokesman for Wirral Council said it is unable to comment on individual cases but said: “If anyone is unhappy with the circumstances in which they have been issued with a fixed penalty they should follow the process of appeal as explained on their fixed penalty notice.”

David has already lodged an objection against the fine and is refusing to pay it.

He said: “I’ve told them that the offence was dropping a cigarette end on the floor but I don’t smoke so that’s impossible. If they check the cameras that will verify that.”

Littering fines handed out in Wirral topped £281,000 in the first three months of the crackdown.

The local authority hired Kingdom Ltd to patrol the borough - with staff using body cameras to gather evidence.

More than 4,700 penalty notices have been given out so far.

The drive began on July 1 and figures show 4,713 penalties had been issued up to November 6 – a huge increase on the total of 90 littering fines issued over five years from 2010.