VISITORS to a town are being scared away by the tactics of litter enforcement officers, councillors heard.

Mold Town Councillors shared their concerns over the methods of Kingdom, the firm hired by Flintshire Council to tackle littering issues across the county.

Following a proposal by deputy mayor cllr Tim Maunders that the town council lobby the county council to reconsider the contract with Kingdom, he explained: "People are so fed up with the bullying and there is still litter around the town. I think it has affected tourism now - buses have stopped coming into Mold."

Mold Mayor cllr Karen Hodgkinson expanded on the point, telling the meeting she understood a coach company which regularly brought 96 people to the town's weekly market had been stopped the trips for fear of their customers being harassed.

She added: "Nobody has a problem with dropping litter and getting fined for it. What they do have a problem with is being bullied or being given a fine when they haven't dropped anything."

Cllr Geoff Matthias told the meeting he had witnessed 'unacceptable' behaviour by the officers - even an instance of the mayor herself recently being 'chased around' Daniel Owen Square by officers.

He said: "I hate litter like anyone else but it is they way they are going about it.

"There is a high proportion of elderly ladies getting picked on. I have been in the Daniel Owen Centre myself where we have had elderly ladies getting fined in distraught states. That just can't go on."

Cllr Sarah Taylor told colleagues that while she dislikes the company's tactics, their work does seem to have 'paid some dividends' - stating the town looks cleaner than it used to.

Concerns were raised by Cllr Chris Bithell about what could happen if the Kingdom contract were to be scrapped.

He said: "This is a sorry tale because we're spending hundreds of thousand of pounds per annum at a time when we're crying out for funds. We are wasting money picking up other peoples mess.

"We have to tidy up our act somehow. The county council introduced a zero tolerance policy years ago and it was a joke - people carried on throwing litter because they knew the likelihood of being prosecuted was nil and the figures bore that out. "The fines issued by our officers in-house were derisory and most people took no notice and carried on.

"Onto the scene came Kingdom and other councils took them on because they were desperate. I hear this anecdotal evidence about Kingdom and some of these things are not backed up by the figures.

"If we do away with Kindgom we go back to wading through streets of litter. I don't want to live in a town like that."

Following the debate councillors agreed to ask Flintshire Council to at least reconsider the terms of Kingdom's contract, in order to change the way the company challenges people over suspected littering.

Flintshire Council confirmed its environment overview and scrutiny committee will be asked to make a recommendation to cabinet on the future delivery arrangement for environmental enforcement activities in the county and to review the current performance of the contract with Kingdom Ltd.