A pilot scheme to issue more enforcement tickets to clean up the area has been deemed a success – and will be carried on for a further two years at minimum.
In April 2012, two enforcement teams were amalgamated to create a single multi-functional team which now sits within the Streetscene section of the Environment and Planning Department of Wrexham Council.
Wrexham Council said: “The creation of this single multifunctional team delivered a more joined up approach to enforcement activities, maximised the use of resources and reduced inefficiencies in service delivery.
“Despite these benefits, dog fouling and littering remained an issue that had proved difficult to tackle and one that remained an area of concern for local communities and residents. Due to this, the Council engaged the services of an enforcement contractor (Kingdom) from 1 April 2016 for a 12 month pilot period.”
As that pilot is coming to an end Wrexham Council has agreed to procure a private partner, with a proven track record in the enforcement of environmental crime, on the basis of a 2 year contract with an option to extend to 3 years).
The partner will be sought on the basis of a no fee financial model with all costs of the service met through the issuing of fixed penalty notices.
Data has been made public on the number of tickets issued, with Kingdom issuing the same number in the first few days of the pilot as Wrexham Council did in an entire year. We asked if that meant Wrexham Council were not doing the best job in the first place, with Lead Member David A Bithell ‘holding his hands up’ saying it was ‘absolutely right’.
When speaking to Council Leader Mark Pritchard on this topic he told us that it costs £70m a year to clean the streets of Wales, and in Wrexham it is over £1.2 million a year: “I personally think the streets are cleaner, and people are realising its not acceptable. People are not happy when they are caught for speeding, littering is also not acceptable, why should the tax payers pay to clean it up?
We asked about the financial deal, if there was still percentages of every ticket going back to the Council and what costs were involved. We were told the Kingdom pilot had not cost the Council anything, and had resulted in effect a £30k ‘profit’, that is going back into the Environment Department budget.
Cllr Pritchard was keen to state: “It is not a scheme to generate income, but with a partner to clean up Wrexham as a place, and not just town, but our villages. People understand if you drop litter, or foul on football pitch… them days are gone!”
This week councillors debated the report and recommendation this week in the Guildhall, where a query was raised by Cllr Bob Dutton over if it is an additional year on to the pilot or a new contract. Cllr Bithell explained there was a pilot scheme, and now there will be a new two year deal procured with an option of a third.
Cllr Dana Davies raised the common issues in the early days with the Kingdom trial (that we have also relayed to the Lead Member ourselves about dark clad ticket-ninjas issuing questionable tickets!), including an anecdote over a fine issues for a parking ticket that had blown out of someones car for a split second, adding “We would all support the fair policy, but not an unfair one.”
Cllr Bithell noted that there is an appeal process and that Officers of the Council do ‘challenge and check’ to ensure policy is consistently applied. He added that there will be an increased emphasis on dog fouling due to feedback from fellow Councillors and complaints from the public on the problem.
Cllr Pritchard took some time to explain that due to a family emergency he had the pleasure of being by playing fields in Rhostyllen at 4:20am that day and had seen ‘difficult to catch’ dog walkers on the pitches, adding when his son plays youth football he has to take a small shovel and bag to help clean up the grass to make it fit to play.
The recommendation for Wrexham Council to hire a company to continue the service provided by Kingdom, which could be Kingdom themselves, for a further two years was agreed.