Senior politicians in Flintshire have urged people to ‘take responsibility’ for their actions to reduce the amount of litter on the county’s streets.
The call was made as members of Flintshire Council’s ruling Labour administration met to discuss guidelines for issuing £75 fines against individuals who drop rubbish or fail to pick up after their dog.
The enforcement service was recently brought back in-house by the local authority following the departure of Kingdom Services, whose staff attracted criticism for alleged ‘heavy handed’ tactics.
The council now has seven officers responsible for tackling litter hot spots and handing out fixed penalty notices.
At a meeting on Tuesday cabinet members said they would aim to strike the right balance between education and punishment to address the previous criticism.
However, they stressed it was up to members of the public to change their behaviour in order to make a real difference.
Speaking at County Hall in Mold, Cllr Derek Butler, cabinet member for economic development, said: “I think we’ve gone through a period where people’s perceptions are that they can drop things and expect the council to pick it up.
“Not just in Flintshire but nationally there seems to be this mentality.
“People actually need to be responsible for their own communities.
“Flintshire people need to be citizens and behave as citizens.”
It was previously revealed that plain-clothed council officers will be used as part of the crackdown on dog fouling in Flintshire.
Staff will be asked to work flexible shifts, including early mornings and evenings, in order to target people who don’t clean up after their pets.
Under the new service, community and town councils will also be given the opportunity to fund officers to spend time in their area.
Cabinet members approved the new protocol despite fears being raised by Cllr Chris Bithell that the new measures were not strict enough.
He said: “I have great concerns about this change in policy and procedure which we’re now adopting.
“Derek was talking about moving on. Well this feels like we’re moving back.
“We’ve operated the service before in the past and it was not successful.
“I’ve got concerns that we’re going to have seven operatives in the county when we’ve got eight towns, and that’s saying nothing of the villages who deserve a service too.”
It is expected that £20,000 will be generated in income for the council each year under the new service.
The figure equates to 266 fines being handed out per year or 22 per month.
However, Cllr Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for Streetscene and countryside, insisted the number was a prediction rather than a target.
She said: “The measurement needs to be how clean our streets are going to be now and not how many fines are issued.
“Residents need to work with us as it costs a lot of money picking up litter.
“We will rely on the professional judgement of our experienced enforcement officers to exercise a balance between education and enforcement.
“The approach will be that the council will carry out the appropriate enforcement action against those who intentionally litter.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).