PRIVATE “litter police” look set to be unleashed in Colchester town centre in a bid to catch people who continue to drop rubbish.

Colchester waste boss Martin Goss’s warning comes after 218 cigarette ends were found scattered near to Colchester War Memorial during a litter pick.

The Lib Dem leader also revealed the authority’s street wardens will move to a seven-day rota in a bid to increase coverage from September, while £6,000 has been set aside to rid the town of graffiti.

The town centre has undergone a deep clean after grime and litter built up during the period of extreme sunshine.

The build-up wasn’t helped by Colchester Council’s hot pressure washer breaking down at the same time, however replacement machines were subsequently brought in.

Darius Laws, who chairs a town centre regeneration group, took part in the litter pick.

He said dumping litter at the war memorial was disrespectful to those who had lost their lives in war zones.

He said: “It does show a lack of respect for, firstly, the people who lost their lives in both wars, and also for the time and effort put into creating the memorial.

“Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and I have to say they are the single biggest cause of litter in the town centre. They are everywhere and it’s not acceptable.

“At a time when the country is preparing to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, you would expect better from people.” Conservative group leader Mr Laws has also thrown his weight behind the authority’s ruling alliance’s plans to get tough on litter louts.

He said: “I will give council leader Mark Cory and Martin Goss my backing to tackle this head on.

“Dropping litter is unacceptable and perhaps what we need is more people being issued fines to press that point home.”

Mr Goss said: “We are looking at enhancing our current proposition around enforcement and that we’re hoping to see the benefits of that in the coming weeks and months.

“It is likely to be a combination of more of our own staff and external enforcement, which have used before to great success.”

In Bradford, the number of fines handed out for littering increased from 43 in 2016 to almost 3,000 in the first six months of 2017 when the council employed a private firm to enforce litter fines.

Mr Goss said any contracted enforcement is likely to be concentrated on the night time economy.

He said: “The message I want to get out there is: ‘It is not okay to leave Colchester town centre in a mess when you leave.’

“There are a minority of people who continue to leave their rubbish in the town centre and we are going to take action against them because they are costing taxpayers thousands of pounds.

“What people don’t realise is there is always a cost so my message is clear: ‘If you’re not going to comply, then unfortunately we will deal with you in a different way’.”

The waste boss also plans to install more cigarette bins in the town centre as well as increasing the number of public recycling points in High Street.

The litter pick was supported by businesses such as Robert Dyas, Wimpy and Metro Bank.