Over 100 £75 fines have been issued in Wrexham & Chirk during the first day of the new ‘zero tolerance’ clampdown by a company hired by Wrexham Council to police litter and dog mess.
The fines are being issued on behalf of the Council by Kingdom Enforcement Services and were issued in the town centre and Chirk.
Cllr David A Bithell, Lead member for the Environment and Transport, said: “Whilst the fines have been met with mixed feelings many people welcome the fact that we are taking a zero tolerance approach.
“We will continue with this approach and hope word quickly spreads that allowing your dog to foul and not picking it up or discarding litter will cost £75.00. Those who do pick up after their dogs and use a waste bin for their litter have nothing to fear from the new approach.”
Several readers who have been subjected to fines in the town centre have been in touch with Wrexham.com, most unhappy with being ticketed without warning what they feel are trivial matters.
One reader who was fined in the town centre told us: “I dropped my cigarette end into a drain on my way back to work from lunch, I was unaware that this was an offence. I strongly feel that I was targeted as an easy touch for a fine.
“I doubt that on the spot fines will be given to drinkers littering pavements with cigarette ends outside pubs. Where will these enforcers be on a Saturday lunchtime, not outside McDonald’s as under 18s cannot be fined.”
On our Forums one account of an attempted fine is documented, where an angry response was not followed up by those issuing them: “…they certainly didn’t seem overly keen to follow him to pursue the £75.00 fine after he swore loudly and stomped off. I guess they’ll be going after ‘soft’ targets, or at least only people who won’t stand-up to them.”
Eagles Meadow’s Manager Kevin Critchley told us of one incident where an elderly lady was sat on a bench at the shopping centre and ‘stubbed out a cigarette on the floor’ and was instantly subjected to a £75 fine.
Mr Critchley said he feels the fines issued by Kingdom are ‘disproportionate’, referring to the enforcers who have a dark uniform as ‘bully boy ninjas hiding around corners’.
Speaking of an incident yesterday he said: “They are targeting people who are perhaps easy targets. The older lady was reduced to tears and the man with her was fuming. The fine is 50% of the full state pension, they have taken half a weeks money off her, on private land for one cigarette stub with no warning or appeal. I don’t care if legal, or if it is zero tolerance you have just taken half of this persons pension. Hopefully she has food in, or no big bills coming up.
“The fine is out of proportion to the so called offence. It is wrong, it is immoral and it is disgusting.”
Mr Critchley said he had requested that Wrexham Council ensure Kingdom do not patrol the shopping centre which is considered private property, however was told Kingdom have the authority to issue tickets on public and private land. With further discussions it appears an informal deal has been reached today and Kingdom will not patrol Eagles Meadow, with the Council saying they will ‘respect the wishes of Eagle’s Meadow Management’.
Mr Critchley said, “We don’t have a litter problem in Eagles Meadow, if they are trying to stop litter and dog poo shouldn’t they be going where the litter and dog poo is? The removal of the Council’s help will have completely zero impact as we had no help from them anyway as they do not take our rubbish or sweep up.”
Wrexham.com’s query with Wrexham Council regarding if the ability to fine on private property means those littering in their own gardens, or allowing their dogs to do their business on their own land could result in a £75 was not specifically answered.
Others have been in touch regarding the potential negative impression of the town if £75 fines become commonplace, with Cllr David A Bithell responding: “I find it very difficult to believe that fining offenders for dog fouling or littering will give a negative image of Wrexham.
“We are only at the very early stages of this contract and obviously there were going to be a lot of fines issued until people realise that if you go anywhere in Wrexham, not just the town centre, you will be expected to pick up your litter and pick it up if your dog fouls.
“I believe this is reasonable and that the vast majority of the public will feel the same. For those who don’t drop litter of allow their dog to foul there is nothing to fear.”
Cllr Bithell’s position has been backed up by many commenters responding to the ‘zero tolerance’ warning on Facebook.
Lots of people posted suggesting areas to target due to litter or dog mess problems, with comments such as: “big money to be made in Ruabon”, “Big money to be made in Plas Madoc, every grass verge is full of dog mess” and “Hope they are going to visit the villages too, dog crap on all the pavements and lanes around ours, some people have no pride in their own village.”
The current partnership between Wrexham Council and Kingdom is due to last a year.
(Pic: one example of an issued ticket, where the cigarette was placed down a drain.)