The litter police employed by Kirklees Council are earning far more cash for their company than first thought, it has been claimed.
Private firm Kingdom has been enjoying the lion’s share of its deal with the council to issue £75 fines to residents who drop rubbish or break dog fouling and dog control laws.
Figures published last August revealed it was making about £50,000 per month from people its officers had caught breaking the rules.
A councillor has now claimed that Kirklees gets just 15% of that cash to spend on taxpayers.
Up until now it had been thought the controversial company was splitting the money from the fines more equally.
Reports from other areas where the environmental enforcement firm operates have suggested it takes home 60% – about £45 of each £75 fixed penalty notice it issues – with the local authority keeping the rest.
But at a council meeting last month Clr Nigel Patrick said it was his understanding that Kingdom was getting 85% (£63.75), leaving the council with just £11.25 from each ticket.
Kirklees Council has refused to confirm or deny the figure for reasons of commercial sensitivity.
A one year trial deal with Kingdom runs out next April.
At the council’s November 21 cabinet meeting Clr Patrick said he was concerned about the behaviour of Kingdom’s enforcement officers.
Clr Patrick said he had been told there had been 10 complaints about the conduct of Kingdom staff since their trial contract began on April 1.
He said: “I’ve had some of my constituents write to me about the behaviour of staff working for Kingdom which was described as aggressive and inappropiate.
“Given that this council, I’m assured, takes 15% of the fines, I think any behaviour of the contractor that we are in partnership with reflects on the council.
“In my mind I would be surprised if you continue with this contract after the pilot has finished.
“Contractors working for the council need to be polite at all times.”
Clr Patrick asked the cabinet member responsible, Clr Naheed Mather, if she would talk to Kingdom and put a stop to the behaviour.
Clr Mather responded: “I can assure you we’re in regular discussion with Kingdom as this is a pilot and the council’s reputation is of the upmost importance.
“Our residents and how they are treated is also important.”
Clr Patrick’s comments come after Holmfirth resident Campbell Millett was issued a fixed penalty notice for walking his dog off the lead.
Mr Millett said despite quickly putting his dog on the lead, three officers surrounded him, behaved aggressively and threatened to call the police.
He has vowed to refuse to pay the fine, instead preferring to have his day in court.
The strategy used by Kingdom – a specialist firm based in Merseyside – have been controversial in other areas.
A BBC Panorama documentary last May revealed their tactics of threatening to call the police on people they stop if they try to walk away or refuse to pay.
And it showed how officers can make huge bonuses based on the volume of tickets they issue.
Meanwhile, a national newspaper has dubbed the firm the “Litter Stasi” after it allegedly fined Wirral man David Ellis £60 after a bookmark fell out of his book onto the floor. His fine was quashed on appeal.
The paper further claims over-zealous Kingdom staff have fined people for dropping cherry stones under a tree, accidentally dropping a receipt, dropping a small piece of orange peel and dropping bread in water – in other words – feeding some ducks. The latter fine was dropped on appeal.