RESIDENTS are concerned about the “heavy-handed” tactics of environmental enforcement officers handing out littering and flytipping fines.

As 3GS officers continue to patrol the streets of Brighton and Hove, some people are increasingly frustrated with the service after being handed fines they think are unreasonable.

The private company, which is contracted by Brighton and Hove City Council, has been operating in the city since March 2016.

Sole trader Joy Flowers, 64, from Brighton, received a £300 fine for leaving three business-related cardboard boxes by a recycling point.

Ms Flowers said: “I put them there because the bins were full.

“The next morning I had two 3GS officers knocking on my door. They said they were recording me.

“They said they would put another fine in place for waste management.

“Wouldn’t a letter be nice first?

“I rang 3GS and they said we don’t do an appeal process.

“I felt like I was being made to feel like a criminal.”

Ms Flowers said the council’s Cityclean department rescinded both her fixed penalty notices last week.

Another resident, van driver Mark Tudge, from Bevendean, said he hates to see litter everywhere but he doesn’t think Brighton and Hove City Council should renew its contract with 3GS, saying he believes the authority should employ people directly to do the job.

The 59-year-old said: “I am a working man and pay a lot of taxes.

“Do I really need another form of tax?”

The Argus reported last year that from a series of fines totalling £36,000 collected by 3GS, the firm intended to keep around two thirds of the money with the remainder going to the council.

Speaking as a member of the Green Party, Councillor Pete West said: “According to the council, there is no scope for warning before fines.

“Green councillors have received a great many complaints from both residents and small businesses who have been at the receiving end of a heavy-handed approach being taken by 3GS on behalf of the council.”

Cllr West said one complaint came from a resident whose teenage son with a learning difficulty was given no consideration before being slapped with a £75 fine for a cigarette end.

Cat Fletcher, a waste prevention expert who has been working in the city for 20 years, said: “The 3GS officers don’t work to commission. They don’t issue a fine unless they have evidence.”

A spokesman for 3GS told The Argus: “These are perceived in law to be criminal offences.

“There is no appeals process. Criminal cases only have one right of appeal and that is to a court.”