A local authority has been praised after taking a more relaxed approach to litter enforcement over the last 12 months.
Flintshire Council previously used a private firm to hand out £75 fines for offences such as dropping rubbish or allowing dogs to foul on pavements.
However, Kingdom Services terminated its contract last July after a strong public backlash over the alleged ‘heavy handed’ tactics used by its officers.
The council has since brought enforcement back in-house and asked its own staff to focus on educating members of the public rather than punishing them.
Backbench politicians claim the strategy has already paid dividends, resulting in an improvement in the appearance of the county’s streets.
Speaking at a meeting of the authority’s environment scrutiny committee held today, Cllr Sean Bibby said officers were now more focused on helping communities than making money.
He said: “I represent a ward which does have a lot of longstanding issues with fly tipping and dumping waste.
“The perception I had when Kingdom were out enforcing is, you’d have Kingdom officers standing on the High Street waiting for people to drop crisp packets when we had multiple issues with parking and fly tipping elsewhere.
“Those issues just simply were not getting dealt with.
“Now it’s been brought in-house, we have a lot better relationship with the officers and there is progress being made.”
At its peak, Kingdom dished out around 3,800 fixed penalty notices in 2017/18, which were mostly for littering.
The number dropped to approximately 600 during the last financial year after the Merseyside-based firm pulled out part way through.
Since April, the amount has reduced further to just over 100 with eight officers employed by the council to carry out enforcement and encourage the public not to drop rubbish.
One of the main criticisms of Kingdom was its failure to deal with the issue of dog fouling.
The authority’s regulatory services manager Ruth Cartwright said staff had been working during mornings and evenings to address the problem and encouraged councillors to report any hot spots.
She said: “When we have dark nights, we do have them in earlier and later.
“The more intelligence we get the better so we can target those patrols to those particular problem areas.
“We have not issued many fixed penalty notices for dog fouling.
“That’s because we’re going out and when we see an individual with a dog, we’re approaching them to educate them and try and reduce those incidents from happening.”
Councillors voted to support the approach being taken at the end of the meeting.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).