Why I don’t want Kingdom to come!

Kingdom

This picture reproduced from the Liverpool Echo claims to show Kingdom staff ‘stalking’ potential offenders. This is not the right way to proceed.

A few months ago, the Council asked all City Councillors to highlight where we would like the Kingdom litter enforcers to attend in our wards. I replied nowhere. It is not that there are no pockets of litter Church Ward and it’s not that I don’t think that people who litter should face a fine. Its just that I do not believe that contracts with the private sector are the best way of doing it.

Firstly, the Company concerned gets paid by results. The more tickets the greater the profit. This has led to ludicrous decisions such as to prosecuting someone who dropped cherry stones amongst leaves and pursuing a woman who never smoked for dropping a fag end.

Secondly, this approach means that the Company and the Council are concentrating on the small offenders yet figures show that the major problem in the City is dumping. Cowboys, some of them professional criminals, are dumping van loads of stuff all over the City and there is hardly any attention to their misdeeds. In parts of the City the major problem is dog poo. The number of prosecutions for this has been negligible despite Mayor Anderson kicking up a fuss about this issue earlier in the year.

Thirdly, the approach is ignoring the vital approach of educating people who litter to be more careful about what they do and the personal consequences to them of doing it.

So, what would the Lib Dems do about littering and rubbish instead?

Firstly, we would see if Bulky Bob’s or a similar social enterprise would like to run the service instead of the private sector. This Company has made a major contribution to keeping our streets clean by collecting bulky goods such as sofas and fridges and aiding recycling. It trains lots of people; puts any profits into further training and community initiatives and knows how to communicate with people.

Secondly, if no such none-profit company as interested we would bring the service back in house and have the enforcement officers paid by the Council. If a Company can pay staff and make a profit out of the service we should be able to pay staff and not give someone an unnecessary profit.

Thirdly, we would use the surplus we could make on further visits to schools etc to emphasise how nasty littering is. I don’t drop things in the street because I am worried about a fine. I don’t do it because my Mum went berserk if I even dropped a toffee paper by mistake! I was brunged up proper!

Fourthly, we would target the cowboy dumpers using powers that we have under RIPA and get the dumpers sorted out. The stuff they leave behind is bulky, expensive to clear up and is often dangerous. Asbestos is commonly found and sometimes a toxic mix of other things as well. It is often not just small operators but highly organised crime operations that work in this lucrative field. Our second target would be bad dog owners. What their dogs leave behind is not just unsightly and smelly but often medically dangerous with four distinct medical problems coming from contact with dog poo.

Once again, it’s not the intention of Joe Anderson’s Labour Party that is at fault but the methods that they use to try and achieve them. We all want a cleaner, greener city but creating enemies of large parts of the law-abiding population is not the best way to achieve this.

Increasingly, people are becoming aware that the Kingdom enforcers are actually powerless. They cannot give you a ticket unless you give them your details. They have no power to make you give them those details. They cannot harass you in any way. They cannot involve the Police because the Police have bigger tasks on their plate and this is a civil offence.

I hope that Labour will learn lessons from the current contract and not renew it. Only the council can ensure that the right combination of punishment and encouragement is given to provide long-term solutions to a nasty problem

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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