Under a Conservative plan to be announced this month councils would be allowed to keep the money raised from spot fines on litter louts - giving local authorities an incentive to hire wardens to catch offenders.
Few people are fined for dropping litter. In 1999 422 fines were imposed, compared with 2,500 in 1990. In the West Midlands more than 11,000 complaints about litter were made in 1999, but no fines were levied. Indeed, three-quarters of the fines issued last year were in one London borough: Tory-run Wandsworth.
Revenue from such fines - up to£100 - is currently paid to central government, and many councils have cut back on litter wardens. Meanwhile, the number of traffic wardens has soared since local authorities were allowed to keep part of the parking fines.
To allay concerns that councils might try to use litter fines as a 'stealth tax' to boost their coffers, the Conservative plan stipulates that revenues must be spent only on street cleaning and improving the environment.
Fines are also proposed for people abandoning cars. An RAC survey recently estimated that 200 cars were dumped every week in Islington LBC alone. Councils would also be obliged to clean graffiti from walls within 72 hours of a complaint being made, while residents whose rubbish was not collected on time could claim compensation.