CALLS for the council to sever its contract with litter enforcement squad Kingdom have been stepped up after 'excessive' fines imposed on businesses in Wallasey Village were suspended.

More than 250 people had signed a petition demanding action after small businesses on Seabank Road in New Brighton were also targeted by enforcement officers in October.

Their visits to shops followed a town hall decision to hand enforcement of trade waste contracts to the company, giving them the power to fine small businesses up to £300.

But today councillor Anita Leech, cabinet member for environment, announced the enforcement campaign had been suspended to "review the approach and consider any appeals."

Businesses hit with the £300 fixed penalty notices are being advised to urgently submit their appeal to have it dropped.

Cllr Leech said: "This process was always intended to tackle a real problem of trade waste that is being illegally, and sometimes dangerously, placed into domestic refuse - which means council tax payers subsidising businesses.

"Wirral has seen a 10.6% increase in disposal costs over the last five years and the borough’s disposal cost for 2019/20 will be £17.2m, money which comes directly from the public purse.

"The council wrote to businesses across the borough last year advising them of their responsibilities to have measures in place to deal with any waste generated by their commercial activities.

"To this end I want to ensure the approach from the officers enforcing this is to make sure those businesses are given time to make sure they have the necessary arrangements in place before they re-visit them.

"Our ultimate goal is for Wirral's businesses to be compliant with the legislation, to change behaviour where necessary, and ensure everyone is treated fairly."

Conservative ward councillor Paul Hayes, who met with many of the traders affected by the charges, said: "Thank you to all those traders and shopkeepers who worked with us to have this crazy policy dropped.

"It's a shame the Labour Party’s rush to support Kingdom took priority over the need to support our small businesses but I'm delighted that common sense has, finally, prevailed.

"I would urge any business that has received a £300 fixed penalty to urgently submit their appeal to have it dropped."

Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly is among those calling for the contract on business waste to be suspended.

He told the Globe: "I am pleased she has decided to suspend the operation of Kingdom's activities against Wirral’s small businesses.

"The council only wrote out to businesses in October to inform them of their responsibilities regarding the waste they produce.

"It now transpires Kingdom are issuing fines retrospectively to small businesses.

"Their activity is country to the council's own enforcement policies which emphasise help and cooperation with the business community.

"Liverpool City Council recently woke up to this and kicked them out, its time Wirral Labour councillors did the same."