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Council responds to litter enforcement critics

COMPLAINTS made on social media that the Council is enforcing litter without regard to regulations and profiting from Fixed Penalty Notices have been rejected by the local authority.

A series of posts on the Pembrokeshire Council Watch Forum Facebook page highlighted DEFRA guidelines which the post’s author said the Council was ignoring. Subsequent posts said the Council was trousering alleged profits from Civil Enforcement Officers issuing Fixed Penalty Notices. How the Council delivers the service through a contractor was blamed for enforcement being inconsistent and for residents being fined even when they littered by accident and picked up their rubbish.

While we were unable to deal with the anecdotal material relating to enforcement, we asked the Council to answer three specific questions regarding the use of Fixed Penalty Notices for littering.

In response to our questions, a Council spokesperson told us: “ Net income so far for the current financial year is in the region of £20,000. All income from fixed penalties is used in the service area from which it is collected, eg fixed penalty income from littering offences is spent on activity related to litter and street cleansing. No specific budget has been set aside for public education on littering but such activities will be funded as and when appropriate from this source and we are currently in the process of procuring additional signs relating to environmental and dog issues for installation around the county.”

On the issue of which guidelines the Council followed, as the guidelines for DEFRA don’t apply in Wales and litter enforcement is devolved to Cardiff Bay, we were told: “The Council follows the Guidance on the use of fixed penalty notices for environmental offences published by the Welsh Government.”

Cllr Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Public Protection and Welsh Language, said: “It is so important that we monitor the cleanliness of our streets and the environment’.

“With the ever-increasing focus of controlling plastic and other waste pollution in our drains, rivers and seas it is important that everyone takes responsibility for disposing of their litter and recycling materials in the most environmentally correct way as possible.
“We do understand that the enforcement of litter offences has not been welcomed by some people but we can confirm that all the income received is being retained in dealing with litter and street cleanliness and that those responsible for dropping it are now directly contributing to the costs of dealing with this antisocial and unacceptable behaviour.

“The annual survey of local environmental quality independently undertaken by Keep Wales Tidy has shown a marked improvement in the past 12 months of the most widespread litter problem in the County – smoking-related litter. For the first time in the 13 years of the survey, smoking-related litter can now be found on fewer than half the county’s streets.

“Dog fouling has also decreased in the past 12 months and whilst more still needs to be done, especially around confectionery and fast food litter, we are making progress and Pembrokeshire regularly has one of the highest standards of street cleanliness in Wales which we proudly strive to maintain.”