MORE than 550 people have been fined for littering and failing to clean up after their dogs in Burnley in just four weeks.

Kingdom Environmental Enforcement Services has collected £40,000 in fines in the first month of a year-long contract with the borough council to conduct patrols.

The authority's leader, Cllr Mark Townsend, said he was 'disappointed' with the high the number of £75 fixed penalty notices.

He added the council's message to not litter or to clear up dog mess 'wasn't getting through'.

Earlier this week Kingdom hit the headlines after appearing in a BBC Panorama programme which uncovered several cases, mostly in London, where people had been fined incorrectly.

However, Cllr Townsend said he was unaware of any wrong doing in the borough and he had not been told of any complaints made to the council.

He said: "Firstly I'm disappointed the figure is so high.

"It seems that our message about not littering is not getting through to some people which is a shame.

"I hope the figure comes down in the coming months.

"The people of Burnley have asked us to take a tough stance on this and that is what we are doing.

"It's still early days and a decision is still to be made on whether we continue with this scheme.

"I am aware of the Panorama programme but I have not been told of any complaints or instances of wrong-doing in Burnley."

Kingdom has 28 contracts in total with councils across England and Wales and it has been reported that it made a gross profit of £9milion last year, up 30 per cent on 2016.

The show included case studies on people being fined incorrectly, including a man from Hartlepool who went to court over dropping part of an orange peel.

A woman was also fined for pouring her coffee down a drain before putting the disposable cup in a bin in London, according to the programme.

A council spokesman said: “Our residents overwhelmingly support our efforts to tackle littering and dog fouling, and that includes fining those responsible for spoiling our communities.

“We agree with Keep Britain Tidy’s view that any enforcement work has to be fair and proportionate, and that it is only one of the methods available to change people’s behaviour.

"We are working with Kingdom to ensure fixed penalty notices are only issued in cases where it is justified.

“We wish that we didn’t have to fine people for dropping litter or for failing to pick up their dog mess.

"Residents want cleaner and safer neighbourhoods.

"Our borough would be a lot better place without this kind of anti-social behaviour.

"But while it continues we will continue to take strong action against those responsible, as well as supporting clean-up initiatives, working to educate people about the issues surrounding littering and dog fouling, and other measures.”

A Kingdom spokesman said: "Kingdom pledges to patrol Burnley in a proportionate manner, not driven by the number of fixed penalty notices we can issue but by the quality of service for the authority and community.

“We strongly disagree with a number of the claims made in the Panorama programme in relation to both our processes and our employees’ terms and conditions.

“They are all paid the Living Wage and any additional allowance is linked to overall performance and not merely fixed penalty notice numbers issued. Our service and activity is fully transparent.”