NINE people were given fines of up to £100 for littering offences in Blaenau Gwent following a controversial enforcement initiative.

The local authority issued summonses for 19 people to attend Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court yesterday for their cases to be heard, with some involving the dropping of cigarettes, food wrappers and failing to clean up dog mess.

Of the 19 people only two defendants attended court, with their cases adjourned after they agreed to pay fines.

Seven people failed to attend court and were found guilty in their absence, while two people pleaded guilty by post and were also issued fines.

One case was adjourned after the defendant posted a letter saying he was unwell and couldn’t attend, while the local authority dropped five cases for administrative reasons and because fines were paid.

Elizabeth James, 51, of Attlee Way, Cefn Golau, pleaded guilty by post to dropping a cigarette butt in Aldi car park, Ebbw Vale, on April 24 last year.

She was seen by an enforcement officer throwing the butt from a car window. James wrote a letter to the court calling it "a disgrace" Blaenau Gwent council could fine people.

James said she is addicted and called for more ashtrays in the street or the banning of cigarettes completely, adding: "Maybe I will put butts in the bin in future and create more work for the fire service. You’re not going to stop this."

She was fined £75, ordered to pay £75 costs and £15 victim surcharge, the same as Amanda Morris, of Glanffrwd Avenue, Ebbw Vale.

Morris, who works at Aldi, Ebbw Vale pleaded guilty by post to dropping a cigarette in the car park.

Prosecutor Joseph Murphy said she put her butt down a drain before remonstrating with an enforcement officer as she thought it was an appropriate means of disposal.

This caused a light-hearted debate among court officials, with chairman of the bench Alun Thomas laughing: "I thought throwing down a drain might be okay."

Julie Jones of Whitworth Teras Uchaf, Tredegar, Darren Ponphrey of Abertwsswg Road, Tredegar, Luke Price of Alfred Street, Ebbw Vale, Mark Southam of Dwyrain Pentwyn, Blaina and Nathan Dickinson were all found guilty in their absence of dropping cigarette waste and fined £100, ordered to pay £100 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

Dean Davies, 25, of Beaufort Rise, Beaufort, was given the same fine for dropping a food wrapper as was Emily Burton of Hardwick, Abergavenny, for failing to remove faeces deposited by her dog.