Earlier this month, Knowsley Council announced it had appointed National Enforcement Solutions to carry out enforcement activities in parts of the borough in a bid to clamp down on littering.
Last week, some took to social media to complain about their tactics, including “loitering” outside shops and following people in a “creepy” way, amid concerns the most vulnerable could find themselves targetted.
Commenting on concerns raised about the use of litter wardens, many pointed out similarities with issues encountered over a different private litter enforcement company in neighbouring boroughs.
The hugely unpopular move several years ago to introduce Kingdom to fine people for dropping litter in Liverpool and later Wirral led to a swathe of complaints. Ultimately both councils took the decision to end the arrangement.
The move by Knowsley, several years after the uproar elsewhere in Merseyside, to introduce private enforcement agents has left some people “amazed”.
Commenting on Facebook, Stephen Stephen said: “Shame on you Knowsley Council” while pointing to the challenges people are currently facing with the cost of living crisis.
He added: “They had this scheme in Liverpool a few years ago of waste money did not work, it would be more effective to pay to clean up the mess.”
Some people were shocked at the high level of fines being dished out with fixed penalty notices of £150 being issued.
Wissem Mhamdi said: “£150 fine is too much.”
Lawrence Whitbred said they thought it was a money making exercise, saying: “At the end of the day this is just the council trying to get more money from people. That’s all they’re bothered about. They’re seeing £ signs.”
Others said they thought the council needed to focus its attention elsewhere, for example on fly tipppers.
Sue Howard said: “They want to pay these people to actually empty the bins, it’s an absolute disgrace in Beaconsfield and the back of Victoria house, people coming in cars to dump rubbish, old mattresses, piled high with rubbish to overflowing, got the priority all wrong.”
Alan Primrose said: “How about getting them to pick up the litter instead use them as cleaners and empty the bins when they are full you know like the council used to do a public service if you like paid for by the nearby shops.”
Some were more sympathetic, such as Rach Mina Harker who said: “Don’t litter and you don’t need to get upset.”
Tracey Nguyen added: “They are trying to keep the place clean.”
Knowsley Council said it had taken the additional measures in response to feedback from local residents, with Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods Cllr Shelley Powell saying earlier this month: “It is a small minority of people who commit these environmental crimes, but they create a blight in our neighbourhoods, and we all have to pay the extremely high cost of cleaning up afterwards which is unacceptable.
“By stepping up our patrols across the borough, we are taking a zero-tolerance approach to littering and dog fouling to make absolutely clear that these offences will not be tolerated in Knowsley.
“Our message is simple: if you don’t want to get fined, then don’t drop litter and clean up after your dog.”