The planned privatisation of litter patrols in Bath & North East Somerset will be put on hold until they are scrutinised, following a challenge by opposition councillors.
Lib Dem councillors have triggered a formal ‘call in’ process, which will see plans to bring in private enforcement officers examined by a watchdog panel.
Councillor Richard Samuel (Walcot), who is environment spokesperson for the Lib Dem Council Group, commented: “The Lib Dems want to see more action to tackle litter, dog mess and fly-tipping across B&NES.
“We hear from residents that they really care about the state of our streets and rural areas, and that they’re sick of the mess and neglect by the Conservative Council.
“However, we don’t believe a private enforcement company will be an effective or fair way of going about it. There have been some real horror stories about how these companies operate, such as going after soft targets or using quotas and bonuses to incentivise their staff.
“Councillors in Bristol found that almost all fines were handed to smokers for dropping a single butt. Granted, cigarette ends are annoying litter, but this shows enforcement is being focussed on the easy targets rather than tackling wider problems such as fly-tipping or dog fouling.
“The Conservative Cabinet approved this plan with no prior scrutiny and very little operational or financial information was shared.
“It’s in the public interest that we properly consider whether this scheme will work and whether it’s the right thing for B&NES residents.”
The Bath Echo reported last Thursday, 6th September that the Conservative Cabinet on B&NES Council had unanimously agreed to roll out the pilot scheme, which will take a ‘tough stance’ on littering.
Speaking at the time, Cabinet Member for Development & Neighbourhoods, Bob Goodman (Coombe Down) said: “I want to stress the harm caused by this anti-social behaviour which is detrimental to all and that we are taking a zero tolerance policy towards it.”
“The message is simple don’t litter and you won’t be fined.”
The 12-month pilot scheme is expected to work in conjunction with a private sector provider, who has yet to be decided.
Scrutiny of the Cabinet decision to introduce the scheme, including how the enforcement will be delivered at zero cost and how it will improve cleanliness in the area, will now take place.