Licensee fuming after cleaner fined for dropping cigarette in pub car park

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Property Merseyside

Licensee Steve Hawthorn said his cleaner had just discovered the pub had been burgled when she had a cigarette
Licensee Steve Hawthorn said his cleaner had just discovered the pub had been burgled when she had a cigarette
A Merseyside licensee has reacted angrily after his cleaner was handed an on-the-spot fine for dropping a cigarette butt in his pub’s car park.

Steve Hawthorn, who runs the Bowring Park Hotel, in Huyton, said the decision by the council enforcement officer to give his member of staff a £50 fixed penalty notice was “disgusting”, given that she had only just discovered that the pub had been burgled.

He explained: “The pub had been broken into, and she was the first one on the scene. Obviously, she was distressed, so she decided to have a cigarette before the police arrived.

“What upsets me the most is that the enforcement officer displayed no compassion at all.”

The Punch Taverns leaseholder said he also failed to understand the logic of issuing a fine for littering on private property.

Legal action

Although he has paid the fine on behalf of his cleaner, he is still considering possible legal action against the council.

Hawthorn said: “I asked Knowsley Council how they can justify fining someone on private property, and they told me it occurred in a place that is 'open to the air', which I find laughable.

“She would have been the one to sweep the cigarette butt up anyway.”

According to Knowsley Council, the relevant legislation states that “littering is an offence on land to which the public has access, with or without payment”. It added that the case was under investigation.

'Open to the air' offence

Graeme Cushion, partner at licensing law firm Poppleston Allen, confirmed that the “open to the air” offence was valid. However, he believed that the offence could be negated if the littering was done “with the consent of the owner of the land, or whomever has control of the property”.

Cushion added that taking legal action over a fixed penalty notice came with a number of risks.

He explained: “The stark choice is, you either pay a fairly limited amount of money, or you enter into an arena over which you have no control, with no guarantee of success.

“I suspect now the fine has been paid, it’s too late to challenge it anyway. Let’s hope the council see common sense and rescind the notice.”

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