A CONTROVERSIAL litter enforcement firm will stop issuing fines in Flintshire months earlier than expected after deciding to pull the plug.

Last week Flintshire Council’s cabinet voted not to renew its contract with Kingdom Services after a strong public backlash which saw its staff accused of taking a ‘heavy-handed’ approach.

However, the authority planned to keep using them until the end of the current trial on December 31 in order to decide how fines for littering and dog fouling will be handed out in future.

The Merseyside-based company has now pulled the rug from underneath the council’s feet though after serving notice that it will stop working in the county from mid-August.

Following the shock move Cllr Carolyn Thomas, Flintshire Council’s cabinet member for Streetscene and countryside, said penalty notices will now be given out by council staff while plans to create a new regional enforcement service are considered.

Cllr Thomas said: “The council’s cabinet made a decision last week not to renew its contract with Kingdom when it ends in December.

“Kingdom have subsequently made a decision to serve notice and will cease working for the council from mid-August.

“The council is currently reviewing options for a new council run enforcement service, including a possible partnership with other local authorities.

“Until a final decision is reached, enforcement will continue to be delivered by our in house enforcement team, as it is against the law to litter and not pick up after your dog.”

At last week’s meeting, council leader Aaron Shotton revealed that informal talks had already been held with councillors in Wrexham about the possibility of a new regional service to handle littering fines.

Kingdom handed out more than 7,600 fixed penalty notices in Flintshire during the last two years as part of a trial to tackle dog fouling and littering.

However, its relationship with the council was brought to an end after one cabinet member accused the firm of picking ‘easy targets’.

It came as some members raised concerns about the number of fines for dropped cigarettes, with more than 7,000 issued compared to just 111 for dog fouling.

Cllr Shotton said: “As a council we pride ourselves on providing services in-house.

“I support the scrutiny committee recommendations that we do end the contract with Kingdom, but it’s important that we work at pace as a council with the other six authorities.”

A further report was expected to be given to Flintshire’s cabinet in September with options for delivering the service, and it is unclear if that will be brought forward with the council due to enter its recess period.

Plaid Cymru councillors in neighbouring Wrexham have attempted to have the Kingdom contract terminated but that idea was rejected by executive board members earlier this month.

Plaid Cymru group leader Cllr Marc Jones has now renewed calls for Wrexham to follow Flintshire's example.

He said: “It’s encouraging that councils across the North are ditching Kingdom because this contract is not keeping our streets clean.

“It’s targeting vulnerable people and benefitting Kingdom’s shareholders.

“For the past six months we have been calling for the council to ditch Kingdom.

“We desperately need a different approach and now hope that the council can work with other authorities to provide a better service.”

Kingdom handed out more than 7,600 fixed penalty notices in Flintshire during the last two years as part of a trial to tackle dog fouling and littering.