Former Burnley businessman's crusade to oust privately run litter enforcement company from his hometown
A former Burnley businessman is leading a campaign to remove a privately run litter enforcement company,Â which has seen over 5,000 people Â slapped with on the spot fines, from his hometown.
Peter Rourke, who was a former director at well known Burnley ironwork firm B Rourke and Co for many years, started the campaign against Kingdom Environmental Services when he heard that a 94-year-old woman, who was confined to a wheelchair, received a Fixed Penalty Notice.
Peter (51) said: "When I spoke to this lady she told me that a slip of paper blew out of her purse and onto the ground and she was immediately fined.
"After that I started to hear other stories too, many of them involving the elderly and vulnerable and I realised something was happening that was not only wrong but unlawful too."
An action group set up on Facebook by Peter called North Wales Against Kingdom Security, was a huge success and now has a staggering 10,000 members who have run campaigns and marches against Kingdom.
Members want to see the problem of littering and dog fouling dealt with "in house" and they have also been pro active in setting up environmental groups and recruiting volunteer litter pickers to tackle the issue.
Since starting the group the private firm has moved out of Conwy, Anglesey, Gwynedd, Flintshire and Denbighshire.
Peter, claims that Kingdom's "zero tolerance" approach is "illegal" and he is preparing to call for a judicial review where a judge will review the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
Peter said: "I have vowed to get the £18M worth of fines issued to people in North Wales returned to them and once the campaign is completed here we will be coming to Burnley.
"I am sure an awful lot of people living in Burnley will be interested in this."
Peter moved to Llandudno in 2015 where he now runs a successful guesthouse with his partner, Linda Drewery.
He played an instrumental role in the success of his family's business and in the early 1980s played for Burnley and also England under 19s.
Burnley Council announced in May this year it had awarded a three year contract to Kingdom after a one year pilot scheme.
Following a tendering process the council reaffirmed their commitment to cracking down on littering and dog fouling with a three-year extension of the private contractor’s remit.
Over the 12-month pilot scheme, Kingdom issued approximately 5,300 £75 Fixed Penalty Notice fines, raising around £400,000 as the council sought to respond to concerns raised by residents, who frequently highlighted littering and those failing to clean up after their dogs as key issues.
At the time of the announcement Coun. Lian Pate, he council’s executive member of community services. said: “Enforcement isn’t something we want to do.
“I’d rather we didn’t fine anyone for dropping litter or failing to clean up after their dog and in a perfect world we wouldn’t have to.
"Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world.
“We’ve tried other ways to persuade people to take responsibility for their actions but the problems still exist and we have to take tougher measures.
“The last year has seen improvements in the cleanliness of our borough and we are determined to ensure that continues. We’re delighted to continue our enforcement work with Kingdom.”
The £75 fines are issued by Kingdom staff, who are continuing to carry out patrols and identify "hot spot’ areas, issuing fines, and pursuing anyone who fails to pay their FPNs for dropping litter, discarded cigarettes and also those who let their dogs foul pavements and public areas.
The enforcement work is self-financing, with the costs of enforcement being met from the income from the fines.
Burnley Council declined to comment on the matter.