A SMOKER who was given an on-the-spot fine for dropping a cigarette butt says there are not enough warning signs in Bolton town centre.
Marcello Garbini is making preparations to move to Bolton from Newbury in Berkshire, and was here to search for a house.
But a trip to the town centre cost him £50 after an enforcement officer “frogmarched” him to Bolton Town Hall to pay up within 13 minutes of the offence — despite him picking up the cigarette end.
But Bolton Council says there are plenty of bins in the town centre — all with signs “promoting the responsible disposal of rubbish”.
The offence was committed at 11.55am on May 21 outside Crompton Place shopping centre and Mr Garbini had paid the fine by 12.08pm.
Mr Garbini, who is originally from Italy, said: “I came into town just for a look around as I am moving to the area.
"I went over to Crompton Place and before the cigarette butt hit the ground I was being frogmarched over to the town hall to pay £50.
“He was watching me and knew it was an easy catch for him. He told me it was an offence in Bolton to drop cigarettes — but there are no signs up to tell people who don’t live around here.”
Mr Garbini, who walks with a cane, said: “I even picked the cigarette up and put it in the bin but he said he was still going to fine me.
“He said, ‘you’re not going to run away are you?’ and I said ‘I can’t run anywhere even if I wanted to’.
“I have a crushed disc in my back and had an operation to remove it and I’ve used a walking stick ever since.
“I have never broken any law before and I have never heard about this law. It’s ridiculous.
“There are no signs up in the town centre — it’s just an easy money maker for the council to fine smokers. Freedom of choice has gone out of the window.
“My partner and I are looking to move to Bolton — she’s from Astley Bridge — but this has made us think twice about it.
“I think if they’re going to fine smokers, they shouldn’t on a first offence. I paid that fine within just 13 minutes of dropping the cigarette — it must be the quickest ever paid.”
A spokesman for the council said there had been several high profile campaigns to educate people about anti-littering such as its Love Bolton Hate Litter campaign.
He added: “The message is getting across. There’s also a large number of bins in the town centre which are clearly signed to promote the responsible disposal of rubbish.
“While a cigarette butt may seem small, clearing up litter costs the council over £2.8 million a year.
"We remain committed to enforcing littering around the town, and anyone spotted dropping cigarette butts, or any other kind of litter, will be challenged, investigated, and potentially face a fine.”