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You may recall that in last week’s issue I was grumbling about litter, arguing that people need to be discouraged from dropping litter and that if they won’t refrain, they need to be taught a lesson. I applauded the Government’s decision to increase litter fines but expressed concern about 'jobsworths' fining people who aren’t really dropping litter – for example those who’ve accidentally dropped money shouldn’t be fined (although some have been!) because anyone dropping money has clearly dropped it by accident.
A reader picked up on those comments and told me about a company that works across a number of local authorities and supposedly issues more than 100 fines a day – often for trivial offences.
Kingdom Security apparently made a pre-tax profit last year of £2 million. And while they are doing a good job overall at reducing litter, they are said to have issued penalty notices for offences that will, by most, be considered unfair – such as for feeding the ducks in the park!
Many members of the public are angry that private companies are profiting hugely from our misdemeanours, rather than the money simply going to the councils themselves – much like hospital parking, where because the car parks have been sold off or leased out, the private companies that run them profit from our parking costs, rather than the NHS.
Also, there is a real concern that the litter officers pick on soft targets instead of concentrating on real litterers. Another issue is that (I am told) when people refuse to pay their fines, it’s down to the council to pursue them – a costly exercise and if unsuccessful, even more so, as the councils have to pay the litter companies a fee whether the fine is paid or not.
It occurred to me that there’s mileage to be gained from encouraging some of the more able bodied members of the unemployed public to take on the role of litter wardens. That way they’ll be off of benefits and earning money. Plus the profits – after wages have been paid – will go to the local authorities, rather than the private companies.
What do you think?
One more thing… The Cleaning & Support Services Association is relaunching this coming Monday in London. If you want to be one of the new ‘founding members’, contact John Findlater at E: email@example.com
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28th January 2016