Praise for anti-litter patrols in ABC council as courts order nine people to pay £2,500 in total in a single week over unpaid penalty notices

Councillors have spoken in glowing terms of a firm which has been brought in to fine litterbugs, as it was revealed that 17 people this week alone were due in court for not paying its fines.

By Adam Kula
Friday, 8th April 2022, 7:38 am
Updated Friday, 8th April 2022, 10:04 am

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) Borough Council yesterday hailed the number of cases being prosecuted.

In all, nine people were ordered to pay a combined total of £2,494 in both fines and court costs as a result of the cases on Monday and Tuesday.

A further eight cases were deferred to a later date.

An image from WISE's website

At the centre of this anti-litter drive is a company called WISE (Waste Investigations Support and Enforcement).

It has been operating for the last year or so in the borough.

Its tactics have resulted in criticism elsewhere.

For example, in the Causeway Coast and Glens council area, its wardens handed out 749 of its £80 penalty notices last August – but DUP man John McAuley said almost all of them were for cigarette butts, whilst other more serious offences were not prioritised.

WISE has been operating in the ABC Coucil area for the last year

The firm had told the News Letter at the time: “A fixed penalty notice is issued based on an officer clearly observing a member of the public dropping and leaving litter in a place which is open to the air.”

Yesterday ABC’s press release said: “A total of 17 cases for unpaid fixed penalty notices issued by ABC Council for littering offences were listed to be heard at both Newry and Craigavon courthouses early this week.

“The escalating number of cases is a positive statement of the local authority’s intent to bring legal action against anyone who receives a fixed penalty notice of £80 for a littering offence but fails to pay the penalty charge despite receiving several warning letters.

“The council will be taking further action in the coming months against those do not pay fixed penalty notices for littering.”

As to how WISE was performing in ABC borough, UUP councillor (and member of the environmental services committee) Julie Flanagan said there had been some “teething issues” but that she hopes its annual contract gets renewed next month, because the fines have largely paid off.

“We have gone from areas in the borough where there was absolutely no fines, no nothing, and we were tormented with rubbish, to things starting to change,” she told the News Letter.

“It’s taken that year to bed in to be fair, but honestly it seems to be working and it seems to be paying off.”

Meanwhile, chairman of the committee (and fellow UUP councillor) Gordon Kennedy said: “General feedback was WISE was quite a success – they picked up a lot of dog fouling and increased the fine rate by nearly 100%, really.”

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