As the contract between Wirral Council and the private litter enforcement firm Kingdom ends on the 30th June, the question asked is, should it be renewed?
I am all for cleaning up the streets of our borough and fining people that wilfully sprinkle their discarded rubbish on grass verges, pavements, parks and highways, but it would seem that after almost three years of the Kingdom contract the Wirral streets do not appear to be any cleaner.
The simple answer to this is the fact that the rubbish is staying where it is and the only people being penalised are those that drop cigarette butts.
Whilst the removal of a cigarette butt is desirable it pales into insignificance when held up against a McDonalds carton, a drinks bottle or one of those plastic triangular sandwich containers which are seen on a regular basis.
A recent freedom of information request asking for the amount of fixed penalty notices given, the locality and the reason are listed below along with the figures for appeals, and it makes for interesting reading.
Reasons for Issue
Litter Dep-Food 8
Litter Dep-Other 23
Litter Dep-Cigarette 616
Dog Control-Fouling 29
Locations for Litter
Bebington 39, Bidston 1 Birkenhead 340 Bromborough 17 Claughton 1 Eastham 7
Greasby 2 Heswall 21 Hoylake 1 Irby 2 Leasowe 1 Liscard 13 Meols 1 Moreton 8
New Brighton 9 Oxton 3 Pensby 4 Prenton 18 Rock Ferry 73 Seacombe 1 Thingwall 5
Thurstaston 1 Tranmere 14 Upton 38 Wallasey 18 West Kirby 38
Locations for Dog Fouling
Birkenhead 18 Eastham 4 Irby 1 New Brighton 2 Rock Ferry 1 Thingwall 1
Upton 1 Wallasey 1
No of appeals – 78
No of appeals resulting in withdrawal of FPN – 57
No of appeals denied – 21
No of cases taken to court – 0
Results of cases taken to court – N/A
amount of FPNs not paid – 272
It’s clear that certain areas have been targeted and mostly for cigarette fines.
I know from Libdem colleagues in Liverpool and articles in the local press that there is a large opposition to renewing Kingdoms contract in Liverpool and following many conversations with residents here in Wirral, I believe we are of the same opinion.
I looked at how other Councils have fared with this company and their record is not good.
Just typing ‘Kingdom litter enforcement’ into a browser and clicking the News tab brings up a litany of councils who have had issues with this company ranging from over zealous and unsavoury operatives to questionable tactics such as adopting plain clothes and pursuing members of the public hoping to ‘catch them in the act’.
Having witnessed first hand a Kingdom employee walk through a group of several teenagers who dropped food wrappers and cans to give an FPN to a lone middle aged lady who was in the process of putting out a cigarette on the pavement, and so had not technically discarded it, but had still received a ticket I wonder if the results gained justify the mounting outrage of our Wirral residents.