Labour County Councillor Graham Timms pictured above.
On 23rd July 2018 Kingdom securities announced that they had decided to terminate their contract with Denbighshire issuing fines for environmental enforcement (littering and dog related fines). The group began working with Denbighshire five years ago to help catch dog owners who did not clear up after their dogs. At that time dog fouling was the main reason for residents getting in touch with their county councillor. Whilst things improved as people became more aware of needing to clear up after their dog, relatively few fines have been issued.
Kingdom needed to make money from their contract and so turned to cigarette related littering. It was a much easier offence to catch. Residents and visitors to Denbighshire were issued 4,725 fines of between £75 and £100 in 2017 by Kingdom’s enforcement officers. Over 4250 of the fines were cigarette related – 3600 for dropping a cigarette end (76% of the total) and 803 for smoking in a no smoking area (13% of the total). Less than 2% of the fines were for dog related offences.
Llangollen’s Labour County Councillor Graham Timms said: “Whilst I disapprove of people disposing of cigarette ends irresponsibly and smoking in no-smoking areas it seemed felt like a particular section of the population was being targeted to increase Kingdom’s revenue”.
In May this year, the Labour group proposed that Denbighshire County Council should call on the cabinet to terminate the contract. Graham was one of three Labour Councillors who worked on the motion. The other two, Cllr. Paul Penlington (Prestatyn) and Cllr. Geraint Lloyd-Williams (Henllan), also had major reservations about the way that Kingdom seemed to be issuing the vast majority of their fines to people for dropping cigarette ends on the street whilst very rarely catching those who do not clean up after their dogs. A disproportionate amount of the fines were issued in coastal towns to those smoking in the street during the day.
The Labour motion was submitted to the council in May. An amendment was proposed by a cabinet member (Independent) to instead send the matter to a scrutiny committee. Kingdom agreed to attend, but on the day they failed to turn up. The scrutiny committee asked officers to present a report to the cabinet to look at future options. Graham Timms has written to officers asking them to explore the possibility of having a joint service across North Wales for parking and environmental issues since two counties (Gwynedd and Ynys Môn) had already terminated their services with Kingdom and three others were examining their future options.
Kingdom’s recent announcement means that their contracts with Denbighshire and Conwy will end by mid August. Flintshire also made the decision to end their contract later this year. By the end of the summer five of the six counties will have parted company with Kingdom securities. Wrexham is the only remaining county that use Kingdom in the whole of North Wales.
Councillor Timms said “It’s time to bring this service back from private contractors and into the council’s workforce. Local authorities in North Wales have a huge opportunity to create a shared service within local authority control that operates across the five counties. Let’s hope that they take up the challenge and that Wrexham will soon join them”.