Controversial enforcement firm Kingdom Services Group is to be removed from Peterborough’s streets.
Officers from the private company have been patrolling parts of the city since the summer of 2017 after signing a deal with the city council, which was renewed for 18 months at the end of last year.
Kingdom was brought in to patrol two areas covered by Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), allowing it to hand out £80 fines for offences such as littering, spitting and cycling on Bridge Street.
However, there have been claims Kingdom target the most minor offenders, while two weeks ago the firm was criticised after one of its officers allegedly threatened to fine children protesting about climate change in the city centre as they were supposedly making too much noise.
A Kingdom spokesman said there had been no intention to carry out the threat.
Now, council leader Cllr John Holdich, who championed Kingdom’s arrival, has revealed the authority is looking to bring in its own parking and environmental crime teams in the next 12 months to replace Kingdom and operate across the whole of the city.
He said: “The incident of the young children carrying out their democratic rights was regrettable to say the least, however, Kingdom’s presence in the city centre has made it a cleaner, safer place to be.
“All Kingdom’s interactions with the public are recorded so in the event of a complaint we have the evidence required.
“During their time in the city there have been very few complaints. Around 20 I am advised.”
The new teams were revealed last June, but at the time the council had not decided whether to use Kingdom to carry out the enforcement. Cllr Holdich said council officers will be able to tackle more issues such as illegal parking.
Green Party councillor Julie Howell said she was pleased the council will take on the enforcement.
She said: “I’m delighted the council has finally seen common sense and acknowledges the great damage Kingdom has done to the reputation of our great city.
“Our public spaces should be safe and open to everyone. While there are some who behave anti-socially, Kingdom’s response to residents over very minor misdemeanours has made the town centre a place where many no longer feel welcome, a retrograde step considering how hard the council has worked to make improvements to that area in recent years.”
Kingdom has been penalising offenders in the city centre and an area covering Millfield, New England, Gladstone, Eastfield, Lower Bridge Street and the Embankment, which has netted the firm hundreds of thousands of pounds.
It has recently been revealed that 2,430 fines out of nearly 10,000 handed out in England and Wales for breaching PSPOs in 2018 were issued in Peterborough.
The council said its PSPO areas cover more offences and a wider geographical area than those of many other councils.