CONWY council have opted to extend the contract of controversial litter enforcement company Kingdom until April next year.

Despite objections and criticism of the firm, with no other options to put in place short term, cabinet members voted to extend the contract for eight months and employ a task and finish group to come up with a solution beyond that date.

The extension comes with a number of conditions including Kingdom not being allowed on private land, staff not targeting certain spots, and being more visible when in public.

An annual target for the number of penalty notices issued was also scrapped.

Cllr Mark Baker, cabinet member for community development services and regulations, said: “I don’t support Kingdom and I don’t support their methods. This is a time limited extension there’s opportunity now for change.”

Discussion around the contract lasted for over an hour at the cabinet meeting and heard a number of councillors express their concerns surrounding the enforcement company.

Cllr Penny Andow, Llanfairfechan community, described Kingdom’s time in the county as a “rein of terror” after she outlined a number of issues that had been raised by residents in her ward.

She said the Llanfairfechan Town Council had voted to not allow Kingdom in. They have since come up with their own methods of keeping their town clean, which she said had been more than affective.

Cllr Andow said: “When Kingdom went, so did the rein of terror.”

Cllr Baker added: “Nobody really supports them. I don’t support Kingdom, and I don’t support their methods.”

Following his comments he made the motion an extension be made of the contract until the end of the financial year and a task and finish group could come up with an alternative solution.

He said this was a “time limited extension” and now was the time for change.

Following the meeting he said: “We know this won’t be the decision some had hoped for just yet. However, we have a responsibility to ensure the county is as clean and tidy as possible and we are concerned that leaving the county without any service at all could lead to an increase in the number of incidents of littering and dog fouling.

“Looking to extend the contract until the end of March, enables us to fully explore alternative options and maintain environmental standards in the meantime.”

Aberconwy AM, Janet Finch-Saunders supported the cabinet’s decision.

She said: “It was a lively and interesting debate, with a great deal of acknowledgement that the current enforcement regime under Kingdom Security, does not fit well within a culture of fairness and a balanced approach.

“Given the fact there are concerns about the lack of any enforcement, this decision seems a fair and reasonable approach going forward.

“It has to be said that the Leader of the Council, Cllr Gareth Jones OBE, has listened to the many voices of both elected members and members of the community who have raised a number of objections.

“It was refreshing to see that the Cabinet have considered some short term measures, should this not be an acceptable decision for Kingdom who may wish to see the contract now not renewed in August.”

Cabinet will now await approval from Kingdom as to whether or not they are happy with the terms outlined by the cabinet.

Kingdom have been an ongoing issue in the county for some time. They have received heavy criticism from groups within the county, including Facebook page North Wales against Kingdom Security who have now amassed more than 100,000 followers.

Their tactics have been described as “threatening” and “a form of bullying” by former Llandudno mayor Carol Marubbi who held a number of protests against the enforcement company in 2017.

Kingdom have spoken to the Pioneer in the past and said the company was only operating according to the direction of the county councils.

A spokesperson said: “Kingdom is engaged to help councils in their efforts to reduce littering and to help create a cleaner and greener environment.

“Kingdom helps with this primarily by deterring people from dropping litte, and last year carried out in the region of 600,000 hours of patrol time.

“Our efforts in North Wales, for example, have helped create some of the cleanest streets in Wales as reported by Keep Wales Tidy.”