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Maidstone: Borough council to impose toughest fines for littering and irresponsible dog owners

By Joshua Coupe

Maidstone council is set to impose the toughest fines the law allows on irresponsible dog owners and litter bugs.

Councillors have been told of plans that would see a £5 rise in the fixed penalty rate for those caught dropping litter, not clearing up after their dogs and letting them run free in gated parks which are reserved for children.

The council says increasing the fines to £80 will help to further reduce litter and fouling in parks and open spaces.

Penalties for dropping litter and not clearing up after dogs are to increase
Penalties for dropping litter and not clearing up after dogs are to increase

Speaking at the authority’s communities, housing and environment meeting, South ward councillor Derek Mortimer (Lib Dem) said: “I think it’s a bit of a shame that we’re restricted to £80. If we were able to fine £100 it might significantly cut the figure of litter being dropped.

“I just think the government should give local authorities further flexibility.”

The extra £5 will go into the Maidstone council budget and be spent on bins and educational campaigns.

Private company Kingdom Security has held the contract to enforce litter controls in the borough since 2011 and has issued almost 19,000 fixed penalty fines.

In September, the Kent Messenger revealed £40 of every fine issued goes to the private firm.

Liberal Democrat Cllr for South Ward, Derek Mortimer
Liberal Democrat Cllr for South Ward, Derek Mortimer

Maidstone council paid out £57,711 between September 2014 and August 2015. A council spokesman said the arrangement with the firm reduced its costs and “poses the least financial risk”, adding: “It means we only pay when penalties are issued, and we have officers available to cover holidays and sickness.

“The costs paid to Kingdom are covered by the money collected from litter fines, our streets are cleaner, and we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of fixed penalty notices issued year on year, showing people’s behaviour is changing.”

Security officers have the power to issue on-the-spot fines which have to be paid within 28 days. The £5 increase will come into force in April.

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