Council defends litter wardens patrolling Northampton town centre following multiple reports of 'bullying' tactics

“Our wardens are trained to robustly, but fairly, challenge all those who do not take responsibility for their own waste.”

The council has defended its litter wardens following multiple reports of a "bullying" approach being adopted while on patrol in Northampton town centre.

This newspaper witnessed a man in a van being fined by a warden outside The Guildhall after a tissue "accidentally" fell out of his vehicle.

The man in his 30s said: "A tissue accidentally dropped out of my van as I opened the door. The enforcement officer came over to me, made me pick up the tissue, so I did and then he handed me a £150 fine. All for a bit of tissue falling out my door. It's a joke.

West Northamptonshire Council litter wardens patrolling Northampton town centre have been criticised for their approach

"The ticket says that no payment can lead to a larger fine. His attitude was stinking. I said to him, 'have you never dropped anything on the floor by accident?'."

The wardens work for enforcement company Kingdom on behalf of WNC.

Back in May, a litter warden was grabbed by a member of the public while trying to issue them a fine. Northamptonshire Police said the man refused to accept the ticket and grabbed one worker by the wrist, causing minor injury.

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On that Facebook post, Chronicle & Echo readers discussed the presence of litter wardens in the town.

Daniel Chilvers said: "Wouldn't it be more profitable to stick a litter picker in their hands and tell them to collect as they go, rather than just standing there playing on their phones waiting for someone vulnerable they can intimidate to make a mistake?"

Terry James Steers said: "People should use the bins, yes. [But] it's hard enough getting people to come to town without these bunch of bullies walking around harassing people."

Richard Coys Cutler said: "They aggravate many situations."

Daneka Ellison said: "I nearly got fined for a receipt falling out of my bag. Even after I picked it up and put it back in my bag they still tried to fine me, I just walked off. They just love making money for the council."

Michael Adrian said: "If people...put their rubbish in the bin, then these wardens wouldn’t need to talk to you."

These negative comments and experiences were put to West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) by Chronicle and Echo.

WNC was asked by this newspaper:

-In a cost of living crisis, is charging the working man £150 for accidentally dropping a tissue justifiable?

-Why are these wardens not open to negotiation? i.e. 'I'm sorry, let me pick that up and put it in the bin'.

-Would the council like to comment on the ‘bullying’ accusations?

-How much in fines has the council made from the use of litter wardens this year?

Stuart Timmiss, WNC’s Executive Director for Place, said: “Stamping out litter is a high priority for town centre residents, businesses and visitors and our wardens are trained to robustly, but fairly, challenge all those who do not take responsibility for their own waste.

"All interactions are monitored and the footage from the camera worn by the town centre warden has been reviewed and we are confident the fixed penalty notice was issued correctly and in a professional manner."

In other related news, many residents in the town complain about fly-tipping issues – click here to read more.