Street Cleaning Staff Cuts

Having already instituted a charge for bulky waste collections, Council hopes to save more money by cutting the street cleaning staff they hire through an agency, but many are critical of their priorities.

Broadcast at 08:10 on Monday 27th September 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

PS: Now the number of street cleaners in the city is to be cut. The Council have confirmed they’re reducing the number of agency staff. Local councillor Charlie Swift says that fly-tipping has increased even though the community is involved. He’s going round cleaning his own streets. Should we be? Is that the way we’re going to have to go? Well the Council says there’s been no increase in fly-tipping since beginning to charge for bulky waste collections … (INTERVIEW WITH ORTON LOCAL) … One councillor who’s critical about the charge for bulky waste collections is councillor Stephen Goldspink. He represents East Ward. Morning Stephen.
SG: Good morning Paul.
PS: Is that the sort of story you’re hearing across the city?
SG: Yes it is, in fact I heard it only on Saturday at my surgery. A gentleman popped in to see me and said there was a spot where there was regular fly-tipping going on, and he said it had got worse recently, and I’m sure it’s been brought on by the introduction of those charges.
PS: Yes. Councillor Swift was on earlier this morning and he painted quite a desolate picture of some places up his ward, with fly-tipping and dirt and everything. And obviously with these people being let go, the street cleaners, you tend to think things might just get worse.
SG: Well at the moment the latest performance indicator from the Council shows that the fly-tipping indicator is amber, which means we’re not doing as well as we could do. I don’t have a record of what it was before, but my guess is it was probably green. So for the Council to suggest that there’s no increase in fly-tipping is a bit disingenuous really, and it goes against the experience of the sort of people you’ve been talking to. I did put a proposal forward in February when the budget went through that we should retain the bulky waste service, but it was thrown out by the ruling group. It was very costly, and the truth is we’re still incurring the cost of picking up the waste, because people aren’t paying the twenty three pounds. And we have to go round and clear it up later. It just leaves the place in a mess for longer.
PS: You say that. Councillor Swift says that. The Council says the charge hasn’t made a difference. They’ve actually got fewer reports of fly-tipping. Something doesn’t add up here.
SG: Well maybe as a result of your article today, people will start ringing in to the Council, and reporting some flu-tipping, and then we can reverse things. I’m afraid one of the things my resident did say on Saturday was that there are remarkably few people who actually think it’s their own business to report these sort of things. And perhaps the Council are getting away with it because people aren’t reporting it. But the only way I can see them actually reintroducing the service is if they actually cart the bulky waste away by river taxi, because that seems to be something that is dear to the heart of the administration. (Link)
PS: (laughs) Behave yourself. Now years ago, I grew up in pit villages in Yorkshire, and the community looked after their own streets. We didn’t dump things, we didn’t leave things for other people to clean up. Do we need a return to good old fashioned community spirit and morality here?
SG: I certainly think we do, and I’m all in favour. I’m not sure I’m in favour of Big Society, because I haven’t worked out what it is, but I’m certainly in favour of people taking more responsibility, and not relying on others such as PCSOs, the Police, the Council, to keep our area tidy. People should have pride in where they live, and it would be nice to see a return to a bit of interest in what’s going on in your area.
PS: If we are going to lose these street cleaners, which it looks like we are, they are agency staff. As Charlie was saying, some of them have worked for the Council for two or three years. We need to get used to a dirtier Peterborough perhaps, do you think?
SG: Well it’s difficult to know, because I don’t think the Council are giving very much information out on whether this work is now going to be done by in-house teams, or whether they’ve got other ways of getting it done. Of course, if they were doing a particular job, and nobody’s replaced them, then obviously something is going to go. And it does worry me that yet again, when you get cuts, it’s the front line staff who go. Meanwhile some of the other people who are doing jobs which are a little less clear, still stay in post. So we’re all suffering.
PS: Are we on the way to becoming the Home of Environment Capital?
SG: Well, if we knew what it was, we might have an idea. But I’m currently asking questions about what we need to do to become Environment Capital, what our aims and objectives are, what we have to do by when, and who’s doing it. And I’m drawing a blank. But I have got a meeting on that later in the week. Because I’m very clear. If we’re putting money into something we need to know what the objectives are going to be, and when it’s going to be delivered. And if we don’t know that, we shouldn’t be putting money in to it.
PS: He’s Stephen Goldspink. He’s English Democrat councillor for the East Ward in Peterborough. He thinks it’s a state round there, and the charging for bulk waste collection has made it worse. Councillor Swift is of the same opinion.