FOURTEEN towns in South Lakeland are set to take a zero tolerance to drunken yobs fouling streets and alleyways.

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) is poised to bring in new by-laws to help police punish people quickly for the offence.

The law currently means officers first have to warn culprits about the practice and there needs to be people nearby, say official documents.

But the new by-law, requested by police, would means officers can immediately charge offenders leading to court appearances and fine up to £500.

The move comes despite an apparent decline in incidents of people urinating and defecating in the streets.

In 2008, there were 275 incidents reported to police in South Lakeland but that fell to 61 last year.

However, in meetings between council representatives and police it has been raised as a nuisance for the public.

The council says: “The police have advised that they are unable to respond to these complaints effectively under current legislation and asked SLDC to put the by-law in place.”

The council has already won support from the Government’s Communities and Local Government department. The authority and its 51 councillors meet tomorrow to discuss bringing in the by-law.

If approved it would be applied to central streets in Kendal, Ulverston, Ambleside, Grange, Windermere, Bowness, Milnthorpe, Kirkby Lonsdale, Grasmere, Coniston, Hawkshead, Endmoor, Sedbergh, Flookburgh and Arnside.

It would take about a month to bring in, barring any objections, and make it an offence for people to urinate or defecate on roads, carriageways, footpaths, footways, alleyways, yards and verges which are open to the air and to which the public are entitled to go.

The action arises out of SLDC’s Clean Streets consultation and roadshow, a three-month survey of the public last year, which led to the controversial dog control orders being introduced. SLDC says 84 per cent of people surveyed backed a public fouling by-law.

The council has closed a number of public toilets across the district but also entered into partnership arrangements with town and parish councils and local businesses.

However, the council acknowledges that there could be limited availability of public loos during the early evenings and Sundays and suggests police adopt a ‘pragmatic’ approach to each incident.