Council budget cuts may be leaving district with weeds, long grass and full bins
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The impact of budget cuts on street cleaning and bin emptying is starting to be felt in North Somerset.
North Somerset Council cut £150,000 from its grounds maintenance budget at the start of this financial year when it had to make £10million in savings.
The authority axed one mechanical road sweeper and driver, a lawn-mower and driver, a strimming team and reduced the number of seasonal staff who carry out works in busy periods.
A council report issued to one of its scrutiny committees shows teams keeping the district’s streets and parks tidy are under more pressure as a result.
Permanent maintenance staff have taken on the seasonal roles for the past two months, which has not impacted on Weston town centre and the seafront.
However, the report said: “The transfer of staff to carry out seasonal work has had to be addressed by reducing other workloads such as frequency of bin-emptying and removing litter bins in some areas.
“Even with this mitigation sufficient time cannot be freed up to cover previous work volumes and the reduction in capacity means that resource must be drawn from other areas such as some town centre cleansing operatives and mobile cleansing crews.
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“This has directly impacted on the ability to respond so quickly to cleansing requests in the town centre together with wider requests such as fly-tipping.”
The report says weeding has also become less frequent, while long grass has become ‘obvious’ around benches and road signs.
It adds: “Recent warm weather has also seen high visitor numbers who inevitably create larger volumes of litter and rubbish.
“This was removed in a timely way demonstrating the contract can continue to address significant events, but had an impact on the cleansing work in other areas including towns and parks, as these were not able to be attended to so quickly due to a smaller remaining resource.”
In a risk management section, the officers add: “There could be knock on consequences in other services such as gully emptying because debris (including leaf fall) is not removed from the highway channel due to mechanical sweeper and mobile crew reduction.
“These areas of existing higher flood risk are known.”