Push for ‘double’ penalties at South Kesteven District Council
A team of five SKDC enforcement officers is to be set up, aiming to crack down on ‘enviro crime,’ as well as enforce parking rules.
Details emerged during Tuesday’s meeting of Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which also saw members recommend South Kesteven District Council effectively double the current £80 fixed penalty notice for dropping litter.
Cabinet member Peter Moseley said the term “enviro crime” reflected anti-social behaviour like littering and how SKDC would enforce policies relating to it.
SKDC had met with other councils to help determine this and a workshop of SKDC members had sought penalty notices of £80. Central government recently doubled the maximum fine councils could charge to £160, with £100 being a ‘default level’. The council working party accepted this £100 figure as members believed £160 was too much to enforce.
However, Coun Nick Craft called on SKDC to enforce “the government maximum, whatever it is.”
He told the meeting: “We have to hit these people hard. They do not learn the lesson if they don’t get hurt.”
Despite warnings from Coun Moseley and council officers on the costs of potential court action to enforce higher charges, members voted to recommend SKDC’s cabinet increase such penalty notices to the “maximum” set by government.
It then emerged that a handful of such notices are issued due to lack of enforcement by SKDC.
Coun Ashley Baxter noted the upcoming SKDC budget, due for approval in March, includes £150,000-£160,000 to create a team of enforcement officers. He said this would mean six or seven officers issuing seven tickets a day.
Coun Baxter told the meeting he was “pleased” the enforcement team would be in-house, rather than SKDC “lining the pockets of an external organisation.”
Noting the extra tickets to be issued, he commented: “That’s a big change of culture.”
Coun Moseley responded: “The plan is it’s a team of five. The aspiration is for them to break even. The number of tickets they would issue a day is perhaps two. When they have achieved that, they can look at other issues. They can also deal with off-street parking, which is currently contracted out.”
The cabinet member continued: “We looked at what’s best for us. It (an in-house team) brings jobs. It hopefully brings us a return as well.”
Coun Baxter then referred to a previous meeting where SKDC agreed to consider outsourcing such an enforcement team.
Coun Moseley replied the council had “explored third parties” and the prospect of not having them, and had chosen to create the team in-house.