West Suffolk: Concerns voiced over street cleaning questionnaire
CRITICS last night rounded on waste chiefs after it emerged councils were asking communities if they would take on street cleaning duties for themselves.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council have merged their waste functions and set up a Joint Waste Committee to oversee services.
As part of a shared cleansing review, the two authorities have been carrying out consultation with parish and town councils.
One of the questions asked was “do you think your community could become more involved in cleansing, given the right support and equipment?”
A spokeswoman for the partnership last night moved to reassure residents there were no plans to offload street cleaning onto communities.
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But the idea of town our parish councils taking on street cleaning duties has sparked concerns amongst some in the area.
Bob Cockle, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Town Council, said: “My personal point of view is that if I’m paying my council tax then part of that is to keep these roads clean.
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“If that job is passed to the parish or town councils then the precept has got to go up. We are paying once, why should we pay twice?”
However, Mr Cockle said litterpick events such as those held in the Howard estate had been effective both in clearing up mess and in terms of brining the community together.
Forest Heath Liberal Democrat Tim Huggan said: “Residents consider the basic services should be delivered by the council. They are prepared to do a lot extra in their communities as long as the core services are provided.”
Mr Huggan said there was currently no independent scrutiny committee looking at the work of the Joint Waste Committee. He called for such a body to be set up in order to monitor what the combined St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath committee is doing or consulting on.
A spokeswoman for the partnership said: “We are going out to towns and parish councils asking them a whole range of questions.
“One of those questions is asking whether they want to get more involved in litte picking.
“Clare, for example, do alll of their own cleaning. We are asking them whether they want to do this if we provide the support. This is not about getting residents to clean their own streets. We are not looking to withdraw services.”