Flintshire Council seeks greater balance between handing out littering fines and educating people
Flintshire County Council is aiming to strike a greater balance between handing out litter fines and educating people on keeping their area tidy.
It comes as the local authority has brought the issuing of £75 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for those who dispose of rubbish inappropriately back in house following the departure of an unpopular external firm.
The council ended its relationship with Kingdom Services last year over claims of heavy handed tactics by officers employed by the Merseyside-based company.
It included allegations that an elderly woman was fined for accidentally dropping a small piece of paper from her handbag.
The authority has now created an expanded team of its own officers to carry out the service after reviewing the ‘zero tolerance’ approach adopted by Kingdom.
There are currently seven officers responsible for taking action against littering, dog fouling, abandoned vehicles and fly tipping in the county, as well as parking offences.
In a report, Steve Jones, chief officer for Streetscene and transportation, said they were expected to use their judgement to strike the right balance.
He said: “An FPN may only be issued where an enforcement officer has reason to believe a person has committed an offence and there is sufficient and appropriate evidence to support a prosecution in court, should the FPN go unpaid.
“For example, if an individual is deemed to have dropped litter deliberately and walked away (five metres from litter as a guide) then enforcement action will be taken.
“If the individual has dropped the litter and not walked away, they will be given the opportunity to pick up and dispose of the waste appropriately.
“Accidental littering, such as items falling out of pockets will not be dealt with by means of an FPN.
“The council will rely upon the professional judgement of its enforcement officers to operate within the broad guidelines of the policy and to exercise a balance between education and enforcement, with the approach being that the council will carry out the appropriate enforcement action against those who intentionally litter.”
Under the new service, community and town councils will also be given the opportunity to fund officers to spend time in their area.
It follows a request made by members of the council’s environment scrutiny committee, who will consider the new arrangements at a meeting next week.
Mr Jones said: “To assess the level of interest in the proposal, the council will contact all town and community councils and offer the opportunity to fund additional officer time in their areas.
“The town and community council will be given the opportunity to fund officers at an agreed daily rate which will take into account that all revenue generated through the penalty charge notices will be retained by the county council.
“The level of time each of the officers will be available per town/village will be proportionate to the number of councils investing into the scheme.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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