Thanet council to review contract with Kingdom enforcement in light of complaints and ‘bacongate’ case

The contract with Kingdom will be reviewed

Thanet council is reviewing its contract with Kingdom Services Group ‘litter police’ following a number of complaints about the firm.

Kingdom  won a three-year contract with Thanet council in September 2016 to provide enforcement and issue fines for those caught dropping litter or not cleaning up after their dog.

But there have been complaints that the methods used were heavy-handed or simply unproven. In 2017 The Isle of Thanet News also exclusively revealed  the litter cops were themselves being investigated for littering.

Now Thanet council has said it is reviewing the contract on the heels of a case against a Margate gallery manager  who vowed to ‘fight until the end’ after disputing an £80 penalty notice for spitting.

That case will now be dropped.

Dean Stalham, who runs The Stretch Outsider Arts Gallery in The Centre, was issued with the notice outside the Dalby Cafe more than one year ago but refused to cough up the £80 fine, saying he had simply been choking on a bit of bacon and did not spit in the street.

The case ended up in court with an initial hearing at Canterbury Magistrates on January 22 and a trial scheduled for Folkestone Magistrates Court on March 25.

But now Mr Stalham has been informed that Thanet council has reviewed the case and asked for it to be withdrawn because the enforcement officer no longer works at Kingdom and “is not contactable.”

The authority also revealed it is now reviewing the entire Kingdom contract in light of the number of complaints about the service.

‘Thoroughly investigated’

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “We would not comment on an individual case, however the council will be reviewing this contract with Kingdom. We have taken each reported incident very seriously, all of which have been thoroughly investigated.

“Keeping the local environment and the streets clean remains one of the council’s top priorities, with nearly £2m being spent on street cleansing this year alone. Kingdom is one way for the council to enforce its zero tolerance policy to dropping litter in public.”

Kingdom was contracted by eight Kent councils but the firm was caught in controversy in 2016 when a Panorama investigation revealed staff were bagging bonuses for dishing out tickets on questionable grounds.

From the three months July-September last year the firm issued more than 1,800 litter fixed penalty notices and carried out over 1,300 enforcement actions.

Victory

Dad-of-five Dean, who lives in Cliftonville, says the experience has left him frazzled but he hopes his victory will inspire others to “stand up to bullies.”

He added: “I said I’d see it through to the end and, after 14 months of letters, court dates and legal grillings, I now feel very relieved.”

Dean says he is also pleased to hear the contract with Kingdom will be reviewed. He said: “I feel like David against Goliath. I had doubts at time but always hoped that the truth would prevail.

“I’m very happy for the people of  Thanet  that this monster known as Kingdom may now be bought down.”

Binned contracts

Thanet council is not the only authority to review its Kingdom contract. Last year Wrexham council binned the firm, issuing a 90 day notice of termination following mounting complaints about the ‘zero tolerance’ approach of officers. Liverpool City Council also axed its contract with the firm last year. And last month The Guardian newspaper revealed that whistleblowers claimed officers targeted vulnerable and elderly people and even hid in bushes or behind cars to improve their chances of catching members of the public.

8 Comments

  1. In light of the lack of funding from government going to KCC & local councils we constantly hear about it would be ludicrous if these jobsworths deals were renewed & indeed it seems ludicrous the deal was even signed to start with, it would be nice to know-

    1. Just how many people have been prosecuted for dog fouling in Thanet under their watch? I don’t recall reading about many in the local media. Certainly looking at the ever increasing amount of dog feces on our pavements they have not been remotely effective in deterring the vermin who find it hilarious to let their dogs defecate everywhere & then just walk off. Of course we still don’t know how much the idiotic dog DNA scheme cost us thanks to the halfwit councilor who dreamed it up thinking offenders would actually submit their dogs DNA also not being very good at data handling-resulting in yet further cost to the taxpayer when she was charged, there seemed to be a competition where you could spot FIDO & win a prize, well I never saw him once in Margate & neither did the streets judging from the amount of excrement on them.

    2. Similarly how many litter bugs have been fined under the watch? I do remember seeing quite a lot of names in the papers from time to time.

    3. How many people have paid the fines on the spot & how many have instead decided to take the matter to court & exactly how much those court cases have cost the taxpayers for TDC to pursue?

    4. How much this case of Mr Stalham has cost the taxpayer in legal costs, mailings etc? Now we have the farcical situation of TDC dropping the matter because the officer no longer works for the company, surely this should have been dropped a long time ago on the grounds of cost & common sense. It must have cost taxpayers at least ten times what the fine would have been to pursue this matter to such lengths for something so petty & unimportant & one imagines it has more likely run into the thousands.

    5. Exactly what powers did/do these individuals have? What if the accosted party simply refused to pay & walked away-it happened in Liverpool & the out of shape Kingdom employee did not pursue, so one assumes if you just keep walking they cannot do anything but call the police, they surely have no legal power of arrest & one doubts that the local police would attend rapidly if at all for such trifling matters as a small piece of bacon or a fag end being dropped. Any attempt to detain the individual at the scene would almost certainly end up with a charge of assault/illegal detention being levied at Kingdom & TDC-more taxpayer money wasted in court.

    6. Exactly what sort of people are employed by Kingdom? They seem to have been hugely unpopular all over the nation-being booted out of Liverpool after joking they would kick children in the head & axed from seven other areas due to their intimidating behaviour. Hiding in bushes is the preserve of flashers & sex offenders-yet this seems to be a tactic they use, one is reminded of the Bottom Inspectors from Viz magazine. It seems as usual they are just poorly trained yobbos-some of whom were no doubt deemed unsuitable to be doormen jumping around the security sector & power hungry-which is always a problem when you give people a uniform & the power goes to their head.

    • I totally agree. Why can’t this money spent on pointless contracts be reinvested in developing thanet in a positive way so people will have more of a sense of pride and care for their community. A more holistic approach is required to improve Thanet and people’s mind sets which would have a ripple effect. Already the positive press relating to tourism has helped a great deal, focus needs to be on developing the positive in my opinion.

  2. My partner got followed from ramsgate to westwood on the bus so the woman could issue a ticket i wanted to fight it as i feel this was stalking and harassment

  3. Kingdom Heavies still harassing the elderly,infirm and Ower less in Cliftonville.

    I watch a pair intimidate an elderly infirm woman outside the PDSA clinic this morning, as I was in thick traffic I couldn’t intervene.

    Two burley thugs intimating an old lady is not acceptable.

    Perhaps we should insist election cadidates for the May election undertake to get rid of the Kingdom reign of terror.
    .

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