Eric Pickles backs council on new £80 fine for spitting
Spit and you'll be fined £80. At least in the London borough of Enfield which adopts a new, no-spit rule from September. If you're caught and refuse to pay, you can be fined up to £5,000.
Backed by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, what are the chances a no-spit rule being adopted nationwide? Even for joggers?
Spitting distanceIt's looking increasingly likely. Whether you object to it on grounds of hygiene - Enfield Council officials claims it will cut the rise of tuberculosis - or manners, it's the first specific piece of UK legislation to deal with the habit. Roll back to 1990 and hurling phlegm onto the street was a criminal offence - it carried a £5 fine - but it was removed.
"There is absolutely no excuse for spitting in the street," says Enfield Council's cabinet member for the Environment, Chris Bond told the Mail "and we're very keen to see it stamped out. We've had a number of other councils contact us and say they are considering a similar ban."
How will it be policed? It's likely Enfield Council will use CCTV. Safer Neighbour Police teams are likely to bear the brunt of retrieving the fines. But whether there will be exemptions for joggers who sometimes have to gob because of the amount of air they inhale, it's unclear.
But very occasionally you spit discreetly because you have to (how many people carry a handkerchief now?). So will police turn a blind eye and focus on hoodies rather than the occasional offender? So the move has plenty of potential to become a class issue. Even a race issue.
Witness The Times of India applauding Pickles' move (last year a Bombay judge claimed spitting was "an inherent character of Indians").
"Not only do we welcome this [UK] initiative," reports the Indian paper, "we strongly recommend that Indian cities should follow suit. Unfortunately, too many Indians tend to exhibit a deplorable lack of civic sense."