Jan 08 2014

Spitting in the Street – Reader Poll

laws_no_spitting_sign-150x150Just about a year ago, Harrow Council published a map showing where Tuberculosis cases were found in Harrow. And that was it. Under the Council administration at the time, nothing further happened.

Until today, when Sheriff Hall’s latest Leader’s Blog said:

I am about to announce a consultation on creating a by-law in Harrow to ban spitting in the street, and am talking to police colleagues about action we can take. My feeling is that people who continue to spit on the pavement are only going to stop this disgusting habit if we take action against them. I hope there will be widespread support for making it clear we find this behaviour unacceptable, and hitting the pockets of those who choose to do it may be the best way to get them to stop. If we get support from local residents I will come back to you in future blogs with updates on this.

So, what better time to create a poll, and see what iharrow’s readers think of this. Should spitting in the street be banned? Sure, it’s unsightly, but it’s also a multi-cultural problem.  Possibly the most commonly seen, if only by the permanent stains it leaves behind, is the spitting of paan –  a “stimulating and psychoactive preparation of betel leaf combined with areca nut and/or cured tobacco. Paan is chewed and finally spat out or swallowed.” (source: Wikipedia)

Other cultures also spit, predominately as opposed to using a handkerchief, I guess.

So, is it worth introducing bye-laws to try and eradicate this nasty business?

The obvious question would be how to enforce it – after all, over in Hillingdon, the Council has outsourced the collection of fines for anti-social offences to a company called Xfor – we covered that here. At at the time, we reported that the Council was considering a similar scheme here. Bromley has dome something similar, and issued 618 fines (at £80 each!) in 2012. Hillingdon issued over 3,000 fines for littering, presumably from the same pseudo-para-military group. That’s nearly a quarter of a million pounds, and if you assume half goes to Xfor, that’s still a tidy sum of money which could be used to enhance Harrow somehow.

So, up until January 31 this year, we’re running a poll, on every page, asking you: “Do you think banning spitting in the street is a good move?”

Either vote using the voting box on the top right of every page, or, if you’re on a mobile, and looking at the mobile version of the site, vote below – whichever is easier, the numbers are the same.


[cardoza_wp_poll id=6]

Cast your vote, and we’ll feed back to Sheriff Hall next month.


(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)


Skip to comment form

  1. gary roberts

    Another bright idea that will never actually happen. We have had notices up for years saying it is illegal to drop litter or allow your dog to foul the verges or pavements. But has anyone ever been prosecuted.? I very much doubt it. I advise all residents of Harrow, not to take any notice of anything your local councillors say between now and May. As there are elections coming up shortly, and it is just a ploy to get you to vote for them. You will see and hear more from your councillors in the next 4 months than you have done in the previous 3+ years.

  2. Susan Hall

    Mr Roberts that is an unfair comment. The Conservatives have been in power just over 100 days and have done a great deal to start cleaning up the borough. I am grateful to iharrow for asking the question of its readers. If there is an appetite from the residents for us to try and do something about spitting then that’s exactly what will happen. I intend for there to be an online petition for residents to sign that will help us lobby for action.

  3. Gary Roberts

    Cllr Hall,I stand by my original remarks. Please do feel free to tell me how many people many been prosecuted for dropping litter or allowing their dogs to foul the pavements. As I would be very interested to know. As for cleaning up the borough. I can only assume Northolt Road where I live must now be in Ealing. Because it is as dirty as it has ever been. Please do feel free to walk down it any morning of the week. Or afternoon or evening for that matter To see all the litter and rubbish lying about. A lot of which is what the shopkeepers leave out overnight for the road sweepers to remove. I watch them nearly every night dumping their rubbish. Again, have any ever been prosecuted.? There are cameras up everywhere here, so why not.? They must be caught on the cameras. I live bang in the middle of the main shopping area and can honestly say I am ashamed of this area now. And as for seeing and hearing from our councillors more in the coming months. Just read the letters page in the times and observer between now and May. They will be full of letters from the councillors telling us how much they do.

  4. John Clement

    I agree the Roxeth area around Northolt Road is a 3rd world slum. If the population there cannot be trusted to behave like decent civilised human beings, they will have to be compelled to do so.Some of these people need a crash course in what is accceptable and unacceptable behaviour in a 21st century western country.Multi culturalism is a euphemism for those with absolutely no culture whatsoever.

    1. PROUD to be Harrovian

      Yet again John C you are referring to THIRD WORLD SLUM,I am surprised on your comment reference Crash Course for these people,however ,maybe you should look up some article vocabulary skills courses in order to gain some expertise and knowledge.
      You are obviously a very dis-grunted person in society ,and still living in a bubble,who cannot accept changing times around the world,and the way people behave or act .By educating these so call 3rd world slummers,will not make any difference,its about manners and behaviours which you missed to mention …Enjoy the 21st Century its here to stay

  5. Concerned Harrovian

    This would seem to be a double whammy bu saving money on cleaning the streets and providing Harrow with a source of income from the fines. Hopefully the fines would pay for the enforcement. Also it could reduce the incident of TB and other airborne diseases thus saving the NHS money. I agree with previous posters if people do not understand they have a responsibilty not to litter, drop chewing gum, spit etc then punitive measures are the way forward.

    Sheriff Hall is there a possibilty that the excercise where you showed how much rubbish waa dropped in Harrow Town Centre could be repeated? A pile of rubbish was collected and displayed in St Anns to show how much rubbish was dropped in a day. This demonstrated what the men and women of Harrow’s hard-working cleaning teams are up against on a daily basis.

  6. Concerned Harrovian

    There could be a competition to guess the weight of the rubbish pile!

  7. anti-gum party

    I do agree with everyone the spitting is common and in need of action.
    my main concern has switched to the gum which now appears everywhere pavements shops trains buses ( try outside schools / children are main culprits)
    Already the new St ANNES upgrades is plagued by gum look at yr shopping ctr Pinner Rayners lane, Harrow Hatch end.

    Harrow council
    are flat out coping with graffiti , litter, dog mess , dumping waste.
    2 solutions to deal with gum come to mind.

    ban the sale of gum like cigarete ends, they would disappear (maybe we could find out why education has failed to educate schools / children do seem to be the main problem

    we all laugh at the words 2 yrs community service (where do these people disappear to )

    the public would love to see adults, children , teenagers, law breakers on the pavements with hand scrapers removing gum ( paying there debt back to the public( that would be effective answer to to community service.]
    and shoppers could all observe the offenders and see a deterant was working
    Would like a comment from harrow council as to why gum removal is not enforced by the offenders and we can all watch

    anti- gum party lol

    1. Harrow Dude

      ‘Harrow council are flat out coping with graffiti , litter, dog mess , dumping waste’

      No they are not because there is no proper enforcement in these areas…

  8. j p hobbs

    Yes great idea but can we drop it at the door of the UN CIVIC CENTRE . or maybe on the tables at the count , oops god job i am not dyslexic

  9. j p hobbs

    Told you us Brits are revolting and i am proud of it .

  10. All things good!

    It is disgusting, disrespectful and a habit which makes me heave every time I see someone do it. During the war it was an illegal practice to do this and signs were put up , as it was felt that spitting in the street contributed to the spread of diseases including tuberculosis. With Harrow having high TB rates this Bye Law cannot come quick enough!

  11. Edward Cochran on Facebook

    I notice Sheriff Hall hasn’t responded to Mr Roberts request. I too would like to know how many people have been prosecuted for dropping litter. We are waiting Sheriff.

  12. Harrow Dude

    Susie I was under the impression that this was already covered by existing by-laws correct me if I’m wrong. However can you explain how you intend to enforce this as Gary Roberts said what are the prosecution rates for dog fouling, dropping litter, fly-tipping, beds in sheds etc. If you do bestow me with an answer please don’t do that thing you do in answering without answering. Just give us the facts…not electoral spin.

  13. Susan Hall

    We have a couple of different options depending on whether the public are behind this. I am looking to see how much support for dealing with it there is. If the public aren’t really bothered then we will not go to the lengths boroughs like Enfield have to deal with it. I am working through some options that I am happy to share if they are feasible,

  14. j p hobbs

    Sorry change of subject , every time i read the National press i realise how we the motorists are being cheated robbed and lied to by our Council and representatives over fines and parking charges , Harrow must be one of the worst in the country PLEASE REMEMBER WHEN THEY ASK FOR YOUR VOTE . .;

  15. Harrow Dude

    Susie stop fishing for compliments you know the public are going to be behind this. None of the responses above are saying it’s a bad idea and I am fairly sure the poll results will support your latest proposal. The question was how do you intend to enforce this and what are the prosecution rates for dog fouling, dropping litter, fly-tipping, beds in sheds etc as these things are surely currently been enforced under the current by-laws…Enfield as you will be aware have proper enforcement in place and actually issue FPN’s for littering (which can include spitting), something I don’t think Harrow has ever done (correct me if I’m wrong) so for them it really wasn’t a great length to go to in passing a specific ‘No Spitting’ by-law. Come on Susie tell us how you intend this to work…Unless this just more Susie-Spin?..

  16. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    Let’s catch them on a STEALTH CAMERA – what do you think J.P.?!!

  17. j p hobbs

    Do you mean that one hidden near Harrow and Wealdstone station that gave Harrow residents 1700 Tickets in one year and none of you lot will do anything about , well lets hope it will lose some of your seats come the elections , you can be sure i wil remind the voters , most people i have spoken to thought U K I P would do something about it but i am not so sure now as they seem to have lost their Rep . Thanks wully for reminding me .

  18. Praxis Reform

    It’s axiomatic that everybody will say spitting in public is disgusting, because the way the question is worded is that if you don’t vote “yes”, implicitly you want _more_ spitting in public, more disease and etc.

    So, it’s rather like if the poll question was “would you like to pay less Council tax?” Naturally we’ll all vote “yes”, but then how would the Council pay for schools, roads, public toilets, libraries, Councillors wages etc.

    Thus, what we need to know before signing anything is how *specifically* does Cllr Hall plan to enforce this plan, or is she just electioneering with a scheme that is more spin and rhetoric rather than intelligent thought? For instance, why can’t the Police, PCSOs of some other supposed Authority figures “have a word” with people behaving obnoxiously in public? I presume it’s the same reason that they’re too bone-idle to report vandalized bus shelters, graffiti or fly-tipped rubbish etc. – which I take to be the reason why Cllr Hall makes the borough pay for her team of busybody champions.

    The way I see it, if you park your car in the wrong spot, a Warden with a reasonably modern cellphone can easily snap it parked on the double yellow… But if someone coughs up phlegm on the pavement, how does the warden prove who it belongs to, unless the cougher is honest enough to fess up?

    To my mind the ideal answer for someone needing to spit would be a public toilet (except the Council keeps closing them down and selling them off). But then an excess of spit could also be swallowed or ejected into one of the many storm drains located every few hundred meters in the gutters of nearly every road in Harrow where the rain will wash it away into the sewer system. I guess at a push, even a grass verge would be acceptable, after all, if dogs can urinate there, where’s the problem with a little bit of saliva?


    Are we to have Warders whose word is inviolate, and accepted over and above anyone who disputes spitting in the streets? “The Warder says you spat, so you must have done it. Here’s a fine, don’t answer back, and know your place you disgusting reprobate…”

    Will these Warders be on commission? or given a quota, like Traffic Wardens? Is this just a revenue raising exercise for the Council?

    Will there be special dispensation for people with lateral lisps?

    Alternately, are we to have yet more cameras filming our every move, just on the off-chance that some miscreant might decide to dribble on the pavement?

  19. MysticMeg

    I reported someone for dropping litter in Masons Avenue. When I called the council with the number plate of the car from which a substantial amount of the litter was thrown, I was told it would be impossible to prove ( my word against the culprit) and therefore nothing would be done. So, how on earth would Ms Hall propose to catch spitters? Praxis is right. Proof would be difficult to find and a fine would lead to many appeals which would cost the taxpayers even more money. DNA testing perhaps? I loathe this spitting in the streets as much as dropping litter, but, I have yet to hear of anyone being prosecuted for dropping litter so therefore I am not convinced anything will happen with the spitting bye laws either.

  20. j p hobbs

    I would like to thank Susan for her rapid action regarding the litter in front of the carwash at Homebase and by the bus stop , thats probably the quickest i have seen anyone move in Harrow over the past 25 years , yes thanks Susan , i have a vision of this maiden with long flowing blond hair wafting thru the litter with expert ease . wot can i ask of her next , no behave yourselves leave that to J Pepper . HaHaHa .

    1. Harrow Dude

      Perhaps you can ask her to resolve you stealth camera situation…

      1. Harrow Dude


      2. j p hobbs

        I have thank you .

        1. j p hobbs

          And i will keep asking but its hardly my stealth camera having given 1700 PCNs in one year Susan did say in her reply to me she was looking into it still .

  21. PraxisReform

    DNA testing had crossed my mind; but as someone with a background in Biochemistry and an interest in Genealogy, I’d dismissed it for testing spit. Firstly, because getting a DNA sample usually involves scraping cells from the inside of someone’s cheek for testing rather than just sampling their saliva. Of course, there might be some cells in the spit, but there will be many less of them than in a sample obtained by scraping – this will mean that the sample will be more difficult to process and thus a genetic profile will take longer and cost much more to obtain.

    Secondly, a genetic sample usually goes straight from swab to sterile container to await testing. But, if someone has hocked up a grollie on the pavement, it’s highly likely to be genetically contaminated with whatever else is on the pavement beforehand, and whatever comes by afterwards. There’s a reason they wear those silly looking suits in CSI, and the reason is that we all shead hairs and skin cells, that contain potentially contaminating genetic material wherever we go. I do it, Cllr Hall does it, even the Queen does it – The white suits protect the genetic evidence from the Police – they’re not worn to keep their uniforms clean.

    No doubt Cllr Hall has seen the thriving industry in genetic testing kits that are marketed at Genealogists and those with an interest in family history… For around £100, some laboratories will offer to test your DNA and give you an indication of from where your distant ancestors came, or an indication of your likelihood of contracting certain genetically heritable diseases, etc.

    The important thing to note here is that these sorts of tests only look at certain specific markers on your DNA, and are greatly cut down versions of the tests that the Police use. So, they won’t differentiate between your brothers and cousins, etc. (If you’re female, then your sister, etc.)

    Next, once you get your genetic profile, you need something to match it against. So, unless Cllr Hall plans to make everyone in Harrow undergo genetic profiling – which I suspect will cost a small fortune, and be shot down as infringing human rights if she’s daft enough to go down that route – all she will end up with is a database of which ethnic types spit more than others – but little in the way of personally identifiable data.

    Finally, who here would fancy the job of swabbing someone else’s mucus off the pavement for minimum wage? No doubt some poor unemployed chap will be told here’s a pack of test tubes and some cotton buds, now get busy or we’ll cut your benefits… But, as this news article shows, Police quality genetic testing doesn’t come cheap.


Comments have been disabled.