District Enforcement Update
To receive an update from the District Enforcement team on their work in and around the town centre.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: The Chairman informed the Forum that he would be switching the order of the agenda, so the District Enforcement update would be considered first.
The Chairman said that there had been some confusion around this item and what it would involve. Therefore, Simon Dale would respond to a number of questions that had been submitted in advance of the meeting but the Chairman had decided not to allow any further questions from members of the Forum.
Simon Dale, Interim Head of Highways, explained that due to a miscommunication he had only been informed of the item being on the agenda at short notice. The contract had received a significant amount of scrutiny already and had previously been considered by the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel. A number of questions had been submitted in advance by a resident, Mr John Webb. Simon Dale was happy to answer these through a Freedom of Information request but in the interests of transparency and openness, Simon Dale explained that he would provide the answers to these questions in the meeting. The answers were provided for the period October 2020 to March 2021, which was the six-month pilot of the district enforcement contract. The figures below all related to district enforcement work in and around Maidenhead:
· The number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued was 939.
· The reasons for fines being issued included general littering, fly tipping, duty of care and excess black bags being left out.
· Number of fines for cigarette butt littering was 768
· Number of fines issued for fly tipping was 16, with 7 domestic incidents and 9 business incidents recorded.
· Number of fines issued on private property was 48.
· Number of challenges to fines was 388, with 126 being overturned. These were borough wide figures.
· Number of fines that were currently going through court was 105.
· The age profile of litterers was:
o 18 years old – 3
o 19 years old – 11
o 20-29 years old – 176
o 30-39 years old – 209
o 40-49 years old – 204
o 50-59 years old – 172
o 60-69 years old – 88
o 70-79 years old – 24
o Age not known – 52
· The socio-economic profile of litterers was not something that was recorded.
· The percentage reduction in littering across the borough could not be measured but Simson Dale believed on the whole it was a very clean borough.
· The premise of district enforcement was to change people’s behaviour, with fines being offered as part of the service.
· No warnings had been issued to litterers.
· Around 900 ‘stubby pouches’ had been handed out.
· 708 fines had been paid to district enforcement.
The Chairman stated that he would not be accepting any further questions from those present.
Councillor Baldwin raised a point of order and believed that the Chairman was not allowed to stop Forum members from asking questions on an item that had been presented on the agenda. Councillor Baldwin expressed his disappointment in not being able to ask questions.
The Chairman explained that the responses given were to a series of questions. He felt it was better for the questions to be answered and this was not a presentation on district enforcement. There had been some confusion on the item and Simon Dale was not in a position to answer questions.
Simon Dale said that the contract had been to scrutiny before and that was the appropriate environment to answer questions on the contract. A presentation had not been prepared due to the short notice.
Councillor Baldwin said that he had a number of questions on the figures and answers that had just been provided at the meeting and he asked the Chairman why he was not going to let Forum members ask any questions.
The Chairman said that there had been confusion before the meeting and it was therefore best for Simon Dale to only answer the questions that had been submitted by Mr John Webb. The Chairman said that he would be happy to have district enforcement on the agenda for a future meeting.
Simon Dale said that if questions were presented through the usual channels, then the team would be more than happy to answer. The premise of district enforcement was to try and change people’s behaviour.
Councillor Singh asked for a written version of the verbal report that Simon Dale had presented at the meeting. He expressed his disappointment at not being able to ask questions, he had come to the meeting with a number of questions that he wanted to ask. Councillor Singh said that he wanted to have a fair and open conversation between officers, district enforcement, Members and residents at the Forum. Councillor Singh asked the Chairman if he would allow a 20 minute discussion on the item to help resolve any issues Members and residents had.
Simon Dale said that to resolve the situation, he would be prepared to try and answer some of the questions that the Forum had. He said that the Forum felt like an ‘ambush’.
The Chairman said that he would be happy to allow 15 minutes of discussion on the item.
Councillor Davey said that a resident had let him know that district enforcement were issuing fines near a school gate in Windsor. He did not believe that parents should be subject to district enforcement officers when they were picking up their children from school.
Councillor Baldwin believed that district enforcement had answered many of the questions before and in his opinion should therefore be able to answer questions that the Forum might have had. Councillor Baldwin asked what connection there was between district enforcement and the Kingdom Service Group, WISE, and whether any of these companies had competed against each other in any contract for any local authority, anywhere in the UK.
Simon Dale said that he was attending the Forum in good faith. He could not answer the question that Councillor Baldwin had asked and asked how Councillor Baldwin expected him to know the answer. Simon Dale did not feel the line of questioning was appropriate for the Town Forum.
Councillor Targowski asked what district enforcement did in Maidenhead. He felt there was a lot of litter and fines needed to be an appropriate level in order to discourage littering.
Dilber Thind, District Enforcement, answered Councillor Davey’s earlier question. He explained that the team had received complaints of litter outside the school in question with officers patrolling the area. A number of cigarette butts were being dropped and it was an area that was being focused on. Officers followed a risk assessment and would not stop people in a dangerous situation.
Councillor Clark commented on Councillor Baldwin’s question and believed it was not appropriate.
Councillor Baldwin said that the question was of interest to Members, residents and was relevant to the value for money and quality of service that residents wanted. Councillor Baldwin believed that the questions that had been asked at the meeting were predictable.
Councillor Taylor suggested that this should be put on the agenda for the next meeting of the Forum in July 2021.
Councillor Singh asked if district enforcement had been in contact with schools across the borough to educate pupils about littering.
Simon Dale said that they were happy go through the contract as part of the Overview and Scrutiny process. He suggested that the questions asked could be captured as part of that process.
John Webb thanked Simon Dale for providing the answers to the questions that he had submitted. Mr Webb believed that most of the fines for littering had been for cigarette butts and said that there was still a lot of litter around the borough.