USE of a controversial environmental firm to dish out fines to the public has come under strong scrutiny.

Cllr Ronnie Prince told a Wrexham Council scrutiny committee meeting yesterday that a woman sent him an email about how she was followed while shopping by Kingdom enforcement staff.

He added the email described the enforcement officers as "knuckle-dragging morons acting as judge, jury and executioner".

The homes and environment scrutiny committee looked at the local authority's controversial partnership with Kingdom, hired in a bid to clamp down on littering and dog fouling.

The council agreed a 12 month pilot period with Kingdom in April 2016 and the firm was subsequently appointed to a two-year deal.

The Guildhall meeting heard of fears that the zero tolerance approach operated by Kingdom breached regulations and policy.

Several concerns were raised over the zero tolerance approach not complying with the council's environmental policy and other regulations.

Cllr David A Bithell, lead member for environment and transport, said it was "clear all along" that the council would adopt a zero tolerance approach.

Lawrence Isted, head of environment and planning, said something needed to be done to tackle a problem the council had been trying to address for some years.

He added: "The general mood of the committee is that the council are doing this to the people.

"The people are doing this to themselves by dropping the litter."

Louise Edwards, the council's chief legal officer, said the authority complied with the Environmental Protection Act.

Concerns were also raised about the over concentration on cigarette butts as opposed to dog fouling, and whether problems nationally with Kingdom that were highlighted by Panorama on BBC and by S4C show Y Byd Ar Bedwar applied to Wrexham.

Cllr Rodney Skelland asked what alternatives were available to using Kingdom.

Cllr Bithell said while he was not saying there were no alternatives, performing the work in-house would cost £100,000.

Cllr Dana Davies question the value of the Kingdom contract when Wrexham Council was spending £1.2 million a year on clean-up operations.

Several councillors supported an independent panel to adjudicate on fine appeals.

Cllr Bithell said Kingdom dealt with appeals initially and Joanne Rogers, the council's enforcement services co-ordinator, would review matters if someone was unhappy with a decision. They could use the corporate complaints procedure if still unhappy.

He added the policy was robust, but he would speak about it to head of finance Mark Owen.

The committee recommended a task and finish group to review the contract, zero tolerance and to look at alternatives.

It also recommended that in the meantime officers should speak to Kingdom about the balance between different types of litter, with a view to more focus on dog fouling.

Both Wrexham MP Ian Lucas and Plaid Cymru councillors have called for the contract with Kingdom to be scrapped.