A controversial firm will no longer be able to issue littering fines in Flintshire after councillors voted to end its contract, in contrast to a recent attempt to debate the issue in Wrexham
Flintshire Council’s cabinet – the equivalent of Wrexham Council’s Executive Board, has now decided to stop using the company from the end of December after a strong backlash from some members of the public, who accused enforcement officers of being ‘heavy handed’.
It comes after Flintshire Councillors raised concerns over the firm’s concentration on dropped cigarettes, with more than 7,000 fines given for that offence compared to just 111 for dog fouling – with similar stats seen here in Wrexham.
Cllr Carolyn Thomas, Flintshire’s cabinet member for streetscene and countryside, recommended that the contract be binned and the service brought in house. She said: “The publicity campaign against the existing supplier has grown significantly and environment overview and scrutiny subsequently requested an update report on the arrangement, which was presented to the committee in June 2018.
“The scrutiny committee recommended that the contracted arrangement with Kingdom should end and that all enforcement activity should in future be carried out by a direct delivery service model.
“Despite the fact that the vast majority of fixed penalty notice’s issued by the organisation on behalf of the council have been paid and uncontested, there has been a number of high profile cases recently where the circumstances behind the issuing of tickets has been contentious.
“These small number of cases are undermining the reputation of the both the company and the authority and the arrangement is now being seen as ‘heavy handed’ by many people.”
Interestingly up the road in Flintshire the decision over a ‘zero tolerance’ approach was apparently one decided in scrutiny and in the Cabinet meetings – whereas here in Wrexham we are struggling to discover where that policy was made. Deputy leader of Flintshire Council Bernie Attridge said: “As the cabinet member who introduced this a couple of years ago and the issue on zero tolerance was supported unanimously by scrutiny and ourselves, as there was nothing worse than the annual report from Keep Britain Tidy coming in and Flintshire Council was always bottom.”
Flintshire Council leader Aaron Shotton revealed that informal talks had been held with councillors in Wrexham about the possibility of a new regional service to handle littering fines. He said: “As a council we pride ourselves on providing services in-house. I support the scrutiny committee recommendations that we do end the contract with Kingdom, but it’s important that we work at pace as a council with the other six authorities.
“I’ve already had an informal discussion on a political level with colleagues in Wrexham particularly and it’s important that urgency is put into this matter.”
Whereas the above Flintshire based debates took place in public, in Wrexham the local Plaid Cymru group tabled a motion to suspend the use of Kingdom by Wrexham Council, however Wrexham’s Executive Board voted to move the agenda item into a secret part of the meeting.
A decision notice has since been published on the Council’s website giving the public detail on the item and debate:
“RESOLVED – That the Motion be not adopted.”
Wrexham.com queried on July 11th if the motion was proposed and seconded by members of the Executive Board, or proposed and seconded from the floor. We were clear we did not wish to know who did what, nor any contents of the debate, rather discover the process that was involved. Wrexham Council have not responded.