WEEKEND WEB: We speak softly but still carry the big stick!
CABINET CALL: A weekly column written by members of South Holland District Council’s Cabinet. This week with: Coun Roger Gambba-Jones
President Theodore Roosevelt said: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far” – always a very good starting point when it comes to enforcement of any kind, the notion being, begin gently but have a weapon to back it up if required.
Effective communication is very important. Saying the right thing, in the right way, at the right time can often achieve the desired result and avoid the use of a stick.
This is the policy approach we use within South Holland, be it planning, environmental services, or any one of the dozens of other issues our various teams are called upon to handle – effective communication and education, before enforcement.
Of course, where there is an immediate and obvious danger to the public, or the infringement is blatant and clearly carried out with deceit or malice, as in the case of fly tipping, a stick is the solution.
The district council can take this measured approach, because it retains full control of the process and hasn’t been forced to make the difficult and often controversial decision to outsource its enforcement to an outside agency that might not be appraised of all the facts.
Those councils that have chosen to contract out their enforcement role, have no doubt done so because they were between a brick and a hard place. A rising tide of environmental abuse, littering, graffiti, fly tipping, even contamination of their recycling collections, but little, or no resource with which to deal with it.
However, once you’ve employed a company to take on this role, you have to be prepared for the fallout that might come from a performance-driven contract, based mainly on the need to penalise rather than educate members of the electorate.
Within South Holland and in partnership with North Sea Camp and other organisations, we have a very cost effective flyswat team, able to respond swiftly to fly tipping incidents on public land.
We also have a highly successful investigator, who has achieved a number of successful fly tipping prosecutions and issued over a dozen fixed penalty notices (FPN) where he has considered it appropriate.
Some time ago our communities team submitted a successful bid for the funding of a couple of street wardens for two years. As the name implies, these wardens will be out on the ground addressing the issues that members of the public highlight when using our town centres.
Rather than having to meet a dictated quota, their powers grant them the ability to issue FPNs only where they consider it appropriate – backing up the notion of enforcing only when necessary.
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