Colchester town centre gets ‘deep clean’ after MP complains of ‘filthy’ conditions
- Credit: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL
A deep clean of Colchester town centre is underway after the town’s MP issued a plea for action – calling conditions “filthy” and “an embarrassment”.
The two-week clean commissioned by Colchester Borough Council (CBC) began on Wednesday night, and will continue between the hours of 6pm and 6am on specified dates until the morning of Wednesday, August 8.
It comes after Colchester MP Will Quince issued a direct plea to the Liberal Democrat leader of the council, Mark Cory, claiming his constituents have “had enough of the excuses”, and calling for change in time for the tourist season.
In a statement issed on social media, Mr Quince said: “It won’t have escaped your notice that our town centre is filthy. “It is probably the dirtiest that I have ever seen it and it is the biggest cause of complaint that I have from constituents which I then forward on to the borough council.”
Mr Quince claimed that he had waited five weeks for a response to concerns set out in a letter to Mr Cory, and now believes urgent action is required.
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He added: “Five weeks ago I wrote to councillor Mark Cory, the Lib Dem Leader of the council, setting out a number of urgent issues which I believe need to be addressed around our town and town centre. I am sorry to say after five weeks despite offering to work together closely with him on these issues, I am yet to receive a response.
“So this is my direct plea to councillor Cory. We both care passionately about our town centre, we both passionately want it to be the tourist destination we know that it derserves to be. So work with me on this and please as a matter of urgency, deep clean our town centre.”
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The council claims the zones team have faced a “perfect storm” of challenges in recent times – including the breakdown of a number of cleaning vehicles, and complications caused by severe weather conditions.
This has led to standards slipping, according to Martin Goss, CBC’s portfolio holder for waste, sustainability and infrastructure.
Mr Goss said: “Like everyone who visits our town centre I want to see it looking as clean and inviting as possible.
“We have faced a perfect storm of challenges recently in delivering on this commitment and I accept our standards have slipped. However, I want to reassure everyone that we have been working hard to ensure we have the necessary equipment to help get the town centre back to its shining best.”
Responding to the announcement, Mr Quince said the deep clean was “better late than never”, and urged council leaders to “never let it get this bad again”.
Local residents agreed that work needed to be done, with many citing areas of the town they found “disgusting”.
Kim Barnetson said: “I’m always quite an optimist and prefer to see the positive side of things so when I saw lots of complaints about dirty pavements/litter etc I didn’t really give it much credence but recently I was walking along Magdalen Street, past the station and up Queen Street and I realised it wasn’t just people moaning, the whole place was a huge mess, litter everywhere, food and stains on the pavement.
“I know that this is traditionally the ‘forgotten’ side of town but a lot of tourists come into St Botolphs (Colchester Town) and I wonder what they must think, this is the way from a lovely quaint little station up what could be a vibrant eclectic street towards our beautiful castle and Hollytrees [Museum] and yet it’s really just gross.”
Anthony Khan said: “I would quite happily give up a few Sundays to help clean up if I could supplied with an industrial jet washer! Military Road leading into town is disgusting!”
Jessica Wright added: “It’s embarrassing when we have visitors from overseas and are showing them all our wonderful history,” while Kay Rampton said: “How ashamed I felt taking my son to my own home town.”
The council is also calling on residents and visitors to the town centre to play their part in keeping it clean.
Mr Goss said: “Our zones teams work hard to try and keep the town and the whole borough clean, but I would also urge all of our residents and visitors to play their part as well.
“If people took their rubbish home with them or used the bins, and didn’t use bushes or walls for toilets for example, we would not have to continually find money from our stretched budget that could be used to support other vital services the council provides.”
Local resident Angela Maher agreed, saying the town had been “filthy for a long time” but the public had a responsibility to step up, as “after all they make the mess”.
Mr Goss added: “I am proud to live in Colchester, and I want everyone to feel the same. The deep clean we are carrying out from tonight will help towards that, but going forward we all have a part to play in keeping our town centre clean.”
The news comes shortly after the council committed to invest around £750,000 to keep the town centre clean and promote its heritage and attractions.
The deep clean of the town centre will take place between 6pm and 6am on the following dates:
Wednesday, July 25
Thursday, July 26
Sunday, July 29
Monday, July 30
Tuesday, July 31
Wednesday, August 1
Thursday, August 2
Sunday, August 5
Monday, August 6
Tuesday, August 7