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15.02.19

Council suspends contract with litter enforcement firm Kingdom after businesses complain about ‘aggressive’ fines

Wirral Council has temporarily suspended a contract with an enforcement firm after a raft of complaints around improper fines to businesses.

The council’s cabinet member for environment Anita Leech announced she had directed that the current enforcement campaign on trade waste be suspended so a review of the approach can be undertaken and any appeals can be suspended.

Earlier this week, 12 businesses on the same street were slapped with £300 fines because of “aggressive” new waste rules introduced by the council and policed by Kingdom – who carry out litter enforcement for the authority across the borough.

The BBC reported that one second-hand bookshop owner had been fined £300 after Kingdom classed the remnants of her lunch as commercial waste.

Wallasey Conservative councillor Paul Hayes said that Kingdom staff “have behaved like bailiffs” and said the businesses he spoke to were disposing of waste responsibly.

Hayes has also launched a petition to scrap the “excessive fines” on businesses in the area.

In a statement, Leech said: “Today I have directed that the current enforcement campaign on trade waste is suspended so we can review the approach and consider any appeals.

“This process was always intended to tackle a real problem of trade waste that is being illegally, and sometimes dangerously, placed into domestic refuse - which means council tax payers subsidising businesses.”

She said that Wirral had seen a 10.6% increase in disposal costs over the last five years, rising to £17.2m in 2019/20, which she said comes from the public purse.

“The council wrote to businesses across the borough last year advising them of their responsibilities to have measures in place to deal with any waste generated by their commercial activities.

“To this end I want to ensure the approach from the officers enforcing this is to make sure those businesses are given time to make sure they have the necessary arrangements in place before they re-visit them.

She added: “Our ultimate goal is for Wirral’s businesses to be compliant with the legislation, to change behaviour where necessary, and ensure everyone is treated fairly.”

Business owners have said that Kingdom staff claim to be council employees to enter their premises and then ask for a record of how items such as tea bags and milk cartons are disposed of as they count as commercial waste.

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