Almost 5,000 penalty notices have been handed out by a private contractor in its first 12 months.

In the first year since Flintshire Council entered a formal agreement with Kingdom to undertake environmental enforcement on ‘low level crimes’ such as dog fouling and littering, 4,726 penalty charge notices (PCNs) have been issued beween July 2016 and June this year.

That marks a sharp increase from the 195 handed out in the previous year when enforcement was carried out in-house by Flintshire Council officers.

In a report to members of the authority’s environment overview and scrutiny committee, Steve Jones, chief officer for Streetscene and transportation, said the approach has “had a beneficial impact on the cleanliness of our town centres and open spaces demonstrated by our improved performance measured through national audits undertaken by Keep Wales Tidy.”

In a six-month comparison, Kingdom handed out 4,330 litter PCNs in 2017, compared with just 165 by Flintshire Council in the same half-year period in 2016.

Councillors have now been recommended to support the procurement of a single business partner on a two-year contract to undertake enforcement of “low level environmental crime, dog control and car parking offences on behalf of the council”.

Mr Jones’ report states that resources of the in-house civil parking and environmental enforcement team had become stretched since the introduction of parking charges in 2015 owing to “increased patrolling and enforcement activity of both on and off street parking.”

The chief officer added that as the charges became a priority and while enforcement officers were “empowered when on patrol, to enforce both environmental crime and parking offences, the number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) dropped.”

Under the current 12-month agreement, Kingdom have retained 85 per cent of income generated while the additional 15 per cent has been used to fund “additional enforcement activity in targeting dog fouling hit spots using a combination of Kingdom and Flintshire Council officers.”

In recommending the contract be awarded, Mr Jones said in his report: “The pilot clearly shows that by engaging an organisation who specialise in low level environ-mental enforcement activity directly effects the number of FPN’s issued and this also impacts directly on the cleanliness of the county.

“In order to gain from the expertise of these organisations across a wider enforcement area, it is recommended therefore that a single contract is procured for all enforcement activities of low level environmental crime and on/off street parking offences, on behalf of the council.”

The council also has a statutory duty to collect household waste from all domestic properties and has specific powers to issue FPNs to residents who do not present their waste in the correct containers.

In July, cabinet approved a report introducing changes to the council’s waste and recycling service – including enforcement of persistent residents who continue to leave side waste out after receiving advice and warnings.

Cllr Carolyn Thomas, Flintshire Council cabinet member for Streetscene, said: “This report reviews the best option for the service taking into account the range of enforcement activities it is required to deliver.

“The report makes a recommendation to engage a business partner to undertake the enforcement of low level environmental crime, dog control and car parking offences on behalf of the council.

“The enforcement of fly-tipping and abandoned vehicles will remain with the council along with the enforcement of black wheel bin side waste.”

Councillors will debate the issue on Tuesday and should they support the matter, recommendations will be put forward to the authority’s cabinet to ratify.