A pri­vate lit­ter firm could net ‘vast sum’

Warn­ing fines would hit the most vul­ner­a­ble the hard­est

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS - Stephen Sum­ner Lo­cal democ­racy reporter @stephen­sum­ner15 | 07741 295876 stephen.sum­ner@reach­plc.com

Fin­ing peo­ple for lit­ter­ing, dog foul­ing and fly-tip­ping could be worth vast sums to the pri­vate com­pany cho­sen by Bath and North East Som­er­set Coun­cil. King­dom Se­cu­rity handed out 1,000 fixed penalty no­tices a month af­ter it was ap­pointed by Bristol City Coun­cil in Novem­ber, and it is one firm that could bid for the con­tract. B&NES Coun­cil is fol­low­ing suit but its fines for lit­ter­ing are now set at the max­i­mum al­lowed, £150 - so 1,000 fines a month would be worth £1.8mil­lion a year, if they are all paid. The fine for fly-tip­ping is £400 and for dog foul­ing it is £50. King­dom’s ap­point­ment in Bristol has proved con­tro­ver­sial. Peo­ple have com­plained about fines be­ing wrongly is­sued, dis­putes over pub­lic and pri­vate land and overzeal­ous en­force­ment of­fi­cers. Bring­ing the mo­tion for a sim­i­lar pro­ject in Bath, Cllr Bob Good­man said: “We have all heard the neg­a­tive sides of bring­ing in pri­vate com­pa­nies - chas­ing peo­ple down streets and fin­ing peo­ple who have had pa­pers ac­ci­den­tally fall out of their cars. “Those is­sues have to be ad­dressed and we would not ex­pect them to be part of what we see go­ing for­ward. “Dog foul­ing will be a high pri­or­ity to en­sure, where ap­pro­pri­ate, that fines are is­sued. “I’ve had sev­eral coun­cil­lors com­mend­ing me for what I’m do­ing and want­ing to en­gage with me in ar­eas where dog foul­ing is par­tic­u­larly preva­lent.” The con­tract for the year-long pi­lot scheme will be put out to ten­der. It will be re­viewed af­ter six months. The coun­cil’s fo­cus for en­force­ment has been the city cen­tre but out­sourc­ing would be able to look at a wider area, seven days a week. Op­po­si­tion Lib­eral Democrats backed the move in prin­ci­ple but said the most vul­ner­a­ble, such as the home­less, could be un­fairly tar­geted and it needed proper scru­tiny amid warn­ings of a back­lash from vot­ers. Coun­cil­lor Richard Sa­muel was con­cerned there was no de­tailed busi­ness case and the coun­cil was pro­ceed­ing “based on hope”. He asked if it was right to go af­ter “soft targets” such as tourists and stu­dents. Cllr Rob Ap­p­le­yard said the coun­cil was in dan­ger of alien­at­ing res­i­dents and ar­gued ed­u­ca­tion was key. Coun­cil leader Tim War­ren told the cabi­net meet­ing: “If you don’t throw lit­ter, there’s noth­ing to tar­get. If you get fined £150, you learn. You tell peo­ple. “We have a limited amount of money. We spend close to 80 per cent on so­cial care. If we spend money pick­ing up lit­ter, we don’t have money for those ser­vices.” Cabi­net pa­pers say the con­tract will be at zero cost to the coun­cil and flex­i­ble enough to in­clude ad­di­tional en­force­ment ac­tiv­ity as deemed ap­pro­pri­ate. The scheme will run for a 12-month pi­lot pe­riod and be re­viewed af­ter six months.

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