Figures suggest Northampton's littering enforcers are 'just targeting' smokers, says councillor
A councillor says an enforcement team contracted to fine littering in Northampton is "just targetting" smokers who drop cigarette butts.
Kingdom Services Group Ltd was brought in by the borough council in the new year to crack down on littering in the town.
But their latest performance figures show that out of nearly 1,100 fixed penalty notices (FPN) in March, 97 per cent of them were for cigarette littering.
The trend continues for January and February since the contractor came into force, with over 95 per cent of fines being for cigarette littering.
Now, councillor Enam Haque [Labour, Castle ward] says the team - made up of eight people - are only targetting smokers.
"There is strong anecdotal and statistical evidence that people are being pursued and fined over a single cigarette butt. If they're just targetting people who are smoking then it just seems to me they are not enforcing the whole law.
"I still see lots of litter in Northampton. Crisp packets and cans and rubbish. But the figures show that only smokers are being fined."
Some Northampton residents who smoke have contacted the Chronicle to say Kingdom's team have followed them around town "waiting" for them to litter.
Recipients of FPNs are given 10 days to pay or the charge will rise - but some Northampton residents say the phone line to pay the ticket goes straight to voicemail.
It comes as the borough council last night (May 9) voted on whether to give Kingdom the power to hand out FPNs for dog-fouling, public urination and fly-tipping.
The team has also been told it has permission to go onto private sites too and "assist" with parks and events in open spaces.
Councillor Mike Hallam, Cabinet member for environment, said: "We made absolutely sure as part of the contract that enforcement staff do not have targets for fixed penalties issued and that they do not receive bonuses, so there is no incentive for them to 'sneak up on people'.
"The bottom line is, if you litter, you face the consequences. Our no tolerance approach is supported by the vast majority of people who can manage to put their litter in one of the many bins provided across the town.
"Our consultation over environmental services provision was one of the most successful we've ever seen, prompting more than 8,000 responses, and the message was clear - we all want a cleaner, tidier town. Everyone bears some responsibility for that."