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Enfield's anti-spitting by-law creates controversy as amateur footballers warned not to spit on the football pitch
People who play football on the borough’s sports pitches could face prosecution if they are caught spitting.
The first anti-spitting by-law in the country was introduced in the borough on December 8, 2013.
This meant that anyone caught spitting in Enfield could face prosecution and could be fined up to £500 if found guilty by litter patrol staff.
However, the by-law has now sparked controversy amongst those who play the beautiful game across football pitches in the borough.
In a letter sent to Winchmore Hill Football Club by Danny Scott, Enfield Borough Council’s Business Support Officer, the letter states that although there would not be any specific targeting of football players, they should be warned against it.
It reads: “Whilst there are no plans to specifically target the teams using the borough’s sport pitches, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the bye-law does provide authorised officers with the powers to prosecute those witnessed spitting.
“Please cascade this information to your players and those of the opposition team to avoid the risk of prosecution.”
The letter was posted on social media site twitter by @bob_leeds and many players have react badly to the warning.
Captain of Latymer Old Boys first XI Peter Collop has labelled the by-law “laughable” and “unenforceable.”
He said: “I have been playing on Enfield pitches for many years and I have never heard of something so ridiculous. This is completely unenforceable on a football pitch and quite frankly laughable.
“It is something almost every player does when they play football; it all gets washed away by the end of the game. There is no way anybody will stop doing this. We have not been given any prior warning about this.”
Joseph Connelly, who has been playing amateur football in the borough for nearly 20 years, has questioned how it will be policed.
He said: “There is a big issue with this applying to amateur footballers, how will it be imposed?
“I just cannot see this by-law preventing people from spitting on the football pitch on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
“Of course, it is wrong to spit at each other, but spitting whilst playing has been going on since the game was invented and one by-law won’t bring that to a stop.”
The letter also said: “Under section 235 of the Local Government Act 1972, no person is permitted to spit in, into or from any relevant public place, including all of the borough’s parks and open spaces. Spitting is an anti-social act that has no place in any of Enfield’s wonderful parks and open spaces.”
Enfield Council’s cabinet member for environment, Councillor Chris Bond, said: ”We’ll be clarifying our position with the football clubs but there is no intention to prosecute anyone playing football, or doing other exercise, on our sports grounds.
“The bye-law gives the council discretion over to how it is enforced and we’ll be using common sense in enforcing it. The original letter was intended to be a polite request asking footballers not to spit because it’s a revolting habit, but was overzealous in tone and did not reflect the spirit of the bye-law.”
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