THE overwhelming majority of fines handed out for littering in Blackburn and Darwen have been for dropping cigarette ends, it has been revealed.

More than 4,000 people have been given fines for dropping cigarettes in the borough in seven months since a crackdown on litter was announced.

In October, Blackburn with Darwen Council teamed up with specialist company Kingdom Environmental Enforcement Services to issue on-the-spot fines to people dropping litter on the streets.

Now, John Buck, of Darwen, has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council to find out the figures of how many people received a fine for dog fouling, littering and dropping cigarette butts.

He suspects the council officers are targeting smokers.

The statistics show that 4,113 penalties given out were fines for cigarette end littering, compared with two people for black bin bag dumping, 16 for dropping food, 26 for dog fouling and 110 for general littering.

Mr Buck, 42, said: “I read an article in the Lancashire Telegraph about people feeling they were being followed after lighting up, and they are just going for smokers.

“I would not put it past them after looking at these figures.

“When it started they said they were going to tackle litter louts but when I look at our town centres there has not been much change in terms of tidiness.

“If Kingdom are making a lot of money from just following smokers then they will do it but I think the council should be making sure that other litter is being looked at too.

“I could tell them to come to a bench in Darwen and they would be able to catch enough people there because rubbish is just dropped on the floor.

“The council needs to employ proper wardens rather than Kingdom officers picking easy targets.”

However, Cllr Jim Smith, the borough’s environmental boss, hit back at the claims.

He said: “The vast majority of people agree with what is going on with the fines. They don’t want to see rubbish on their streets.

“We have put a lot of investment into our town centres and we want people to come here but they won’t want to if they see rubbish there.

“Cigarette dropping is still littering and patrols are still going around our streets looking for any littering."