A COACH driver from Bradford is hoping to highlight new laws regarding littering from a vehicle, after suffering a hefty fine for actions out of his control.

Zahid Hussain, 65, from Ascot Drive in Horton Bank Top, runs Ascot Travel, an executive minibus service.

He was picking up a coachload of people around in his Renault Master van in Durham earlier this month when a passenger discarded a cigarette as he was climbing into the minibus at a service station.

Mr Hussain, who was at pains to clarify that his service runs a strict no-smoking policy, received a nasty shock when he received a £150 littering fine from Durham County Council, reduced to £65 if paid within 10 days.

The fixed penalty notice states that Mr Hussain has deposited litter and fallen foul of Section 87/88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The frustration comes from the fact that Mr Hussain himself did not commit the offence.

He said: "I picked the people up from their night out in Newcastle and they stopped off at Durham services for something to eat, which is when the incident seems to have happened.

"As a taxi or coach driver, you can't always control what your passengers do or be responsible for their actions.

"I wish the warden had just told me what he'd seen or given the penalty to the person who committed the offence.

"It's just not fair. I'm happy to pay if I commit any wrongdoing but why should I when it's not my fault?

"We're a very small company that doesn't make a lot from fares, so although a £65 fine might be nothing to some, fining people like me every time something like this happens could put us out of business."

In April 2018, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs released new guidelines stating that the maximum on-the-spot fine for littering and graffiti would double from £80 to £150.

Crucially, for the first time, the guidelines meant local authorities could also use these penalties against vehicle owners if it could be proved litter was thrown from their car.

Mr Hussain mused: "I put something on Facebook and someone told me they thought that vehicles like taxis and minibuses were exempt from that ruling."

However, a Durham County Council spokesperson said: "The notice would always be served initially to the owner of the vehicle.

"That ruling applies to all vehicles, whether it's a car, a minibus or coach.

"If the driver can provide details of the person who committed the offence, we would look into issuing the offence to them instead."