Council challenged on Kingdom contract

Wrexham Council has been accused of messing up on dog fouling after new figures showed how effective its in-house team was before it was disbanded.Today’s Homes and Environment scrutiny committee will hear recommendations that Wrexham Council ends its two-year contract with controversial litter firm Kingdom.

The recommendation, by a Task and Finish group, is to serve a 90-day notice that the contract should be terminated. If accepted by the scrutiny committee, this would mean a final decision would need to be made by the Executive Board.

The recommendation comes as Plaid Cymru councillors reveal figures showing that the council’s dog fouling enforcement team was performing well until its forced merger with the Traffic Enforcement team in 2011-2.

Statistics show that Public Protection enforcement officers were issuing 100 or more tickets a year EACH in the run up to the amalgamation, mainly for dog fouling, and Wrexham was among the best performing councils in Wales.

The decision to merge the teams led to a steep decline in dog fouling tickets as the team was effectively disbanded and had to deal with traffic issues.

Councillor Marc Jones, Plaid Cymru’s group leader, said:

“The justification for the Kingdom contract was that the council’s in-house team was underperforming. It’s clear from information we’ve been given that the council’s dog enforcement team was among the best in Wales until it was merged.
“The failure to ensure an effective dog enforcement team in-house is entirely due to this merger and that is a decision taken by the lead member and senior officers. This opened the door for Kingdom, which has also failed to deal with the serious problem of dog fouling and concentrated instead on cigarette ends.
“From newspaper reports at the time, it’s clear the council’s in-house team were using intelligence received to target persistent fouling, often doing surveillance early in the morning to catch persistent perpetrators. This is time consuming and difficult (i.e. confronting people with dogs) but was done. Kingdom haven’t done that.
“That botched amalgamation has since been used to justify getting Kingdom involved. An easier solution would be to return to a system that was tried and tested. We need to get rid of Kingdom as soon as possible.”

Cllr Jones also challenged the council to reveal the number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued by Kingdom in August, saying the numbers issued in July showed a dramatic decline due to Kingdom’s failure to recruit enough staff:

“Our understanding is that Kingdom hasn’t issued a single ticket in August because it has not had staff on the streets. If that’s the case, then Wrexham Council doesn’t have any enforcement team to deal with dog fouling or litter.”