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More than 11,000 fines for Dartford litter louts

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 October 2019

Cllr Jeremy Kite. Picture: Nikki White

Cllr Jeremy Kite. Picture: Nikki White

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Thousands of litter louts have been stung with on-the-spot fines in Dartford over the past three-and-a-half years.

Litter enforcement firm Kingdom handed out 11,345 fixed penalty notices for people caught littering or failing to clean up their dog's muck between January 25, 2016 and August 31 this year.

Dartford Council leader Jeremy Kite (Con), whose administration hired the private company to work in the borough, described littering as a "modern menace" and said: "This is the reason we took Kingdom on."

But the shadow leader of the council, Cllr Sacha Gosine (Lab), was sceptical about the policy, which he described as too "heavy handed" and said he favours an "education" approach rather than "penalising residents".

Kingdom is expected to be given greater enforcement powers and a two-year contract extension during the cabinet meeting at Dartford Civic Centre on Thursday, October 31.

If approved, the private company's network will expand across the entire district rather than the existing hotspots in Dartford town centre and the borough's railway stations, such as Swanscombe and Greenhithe.

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In addition, Kingdom officers will be permitted to dish out fines for several other offences, including gratifying (£80), throwing litter out of vehicles (£80) and public space protection order breaches (£100).

The newly proposed arrangement would lead to a projected annual income of around £133,995 for the local authority, council bosses say.

Cllr Kite added: "These are not decisions we have taken lightly… but my view is that littering is an avoidable menace to our society."

But Ebbsfleet's Cllr Gosine said: "I do not think it's a black and white issue… I have been told that some people have been accused of littering when actually they haven't."

Dartford has paid a total of £466,450 to hire the litter enforcement group over the last 46 months, but has received an income of just over £136,000 after collecting a total of £602,680 from the fines.

Cllr Kite said the raised funds is then used to purchase additional bins for the borough and to make Dartford a "greener environment".

Around 72 per cent of the fines have been jointly paid to Kingdom and Dartford Borough Council and the local authority has been forced to pay £50,980 in court costs for those who did not pay their fixed penalty notice.

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