24th Feb, 2020

£20k gone to waste in Solihull council's war on litter

John Carlon 16th Jan, 2020

A LITTER enforcement contract started by Solihull Council has cost the borough nearly £20,000.

A two-year ‘pilot scheme’ to fine people who drop litter started in February 2019, when ‘environmental enforcement officers’, working for contractor NSL, were given powers to issue fines of £100.

In an agenda report to the neighbourhood services scrutiny board, Caroline Naven, head of neighbourhood services, told councillors officers had expected the scheme to be ‘self-financing’.

She wrote: “The council is being charged a fixed hourly rate for the enforcement officers, with the council retaining all the monies paid as fixed penalties.

“The intention is that the low level environmental enforcement project is self financing with the payments for fixed penalties covering the cost of enforcement.”

Contracted officers issued 77 fines.

By mid-December, revenue from litter fines totalled £3,825, with the contract having costed £8,183.

‘Initial set up costs’ also costed Solihull Council £15,236 – for buying mobile phones, printers for fines, software and uniforms.

Ms Navan suggested the council would not have to replace the equipment for years to come, reducing the lifetime cost of the project.

Writing warning letters and building prosecution files for non-payers is also costing the council £300 per month in office time.

Staff have to enter payment details manually, as NSL, which also supplies traffic wardens, and the council does not share a computer system.

Nobody has been prosecuted for dropping litter, but Ms Navan stated: “Littering cases where the fixed penalty has not been paid are nearing completion and will be submitted for consideration for court action.”

When launching the anti-litter scheme in February, Coun Alison Rolf, cabinet member for stronger communities, said: “Keeping Solihull clear of litter currently costs the Council about £1million a year.

“This is money we want to be able to spend on valuable services rather than cleaning up litter that people have dropped.

“Officers put a lot of hard work into tackling environmental issues. With the additional help of our contractors NSL we can encourage people to change their behaviour and keep the borough clear of litter.”

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