Littering appears to be on the increase and, as funding for local authorities reduces, it is more difficult to provide a cleansing service that can achieve the highest of standards, according to Wealden District Council.
Waste manager Christopher Bone has responded to a complaint about the state of verges between Batts Bridge Roundabout, Maresfield, and along the Uckfield by-pass towards Halland and onward to Eastbourne.
His email can be seen below along with a reaction from Owen Hoy whose concern was featured on the Uckfield News website yesterday.
Christopher Bone writes to Owen Hoy:
“Thank you for your email which has been forwarded to me as the manager of the waste team and in the first instane I am very sorry of you have found cause for complaint with the street cleansing service.
“Regrettably the incidence of littering from vehicles has become a significant problem for many authorities. In Wealden this tends to be particularly prevalent on the main roads such as the A27, A26 and A22 etc where drivers are often not from the local area and do not care whether they litter.
“Part of the problem however also appears to be from unsecured material on the backs of vans or lorries that gets blown off whilst in transit.
“Whilst we will take enforcement action against drivers that litter where possible it is often difficult to catch them in the act of littering and the waste itself rarely contains information to enable us to identify culprits.
“The resoures allocated by our street cleansing contractor are commensurate with what has been provided in previous years to good effect, however, as the incidence of littering appears to be on the increase and the funding for local authorities reduces, it becomes more difficult to provide a cleansing service that can achieve the highest of standards in some locations.
“That is not to say the overall position concerning our streets is poor. Indeed the vast majority of the many hundreds of miles of roads that we are responsible for are clear of litter and it is primarily the main roads where we have this issue.
“I would seek to asure you we are taking several measures to help tackle this. In partnership with our contractor we are reviewing how the street cleansing resources are allocated to determine whether they can be used more effectively.
“We are also supporting local volunteer picking groups through the Great British Spring Clean event being organised by Keep Britain Tidy.
“Furthermore we are in the process of planning an anti-littering campaign to make it clear to the offenders that this is not a socially acceptable action.
“I hope this helps to reassure you we recognise the beauty of the district in which we live and work, and are making every effort to keep it clean and ensure residents and visitors do their part alos.
“You may be aware if you have travelled the route you refer to reently that we have been litter picking around the East Hoathly and Halland area and will continue this work on other sections in coming days and weeks.
“In the meantime in thecourse of your travels throughout Wealden, should you find a location that requires litter picking you can report this online through our website using the following link and we will arrange for an inspection and any necessary cleansing work.
“I would like to thank you for your cooperation and understanding in this matter.”
Owen Hoy tells Uckfield News:
“I wonder at times what planet these individuals live on, as he believes in giving excuses rather than acting and dealing with the problem in a positive manner.”
He has replied to Mr Bone saying:
“Thank you for your response.
“However, and with the greatest of respect it seems to be full of excuses and therefore doesn’t reassure me in any way whatsoever I’m afraid.
“Whilst I agree a great deal of this waste comes from passing vehicles with unsecured loads and that it is difficult to trace the offenders in order to fine them, merely leaving the litter in situ is, in my mind, not an option.
“Whether there are financial constraings, or not, this problem needs to be addressed and actioned. There should be litter pickers assigned to these busy roads on a weekly basis and not just when Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council receive complaints of which I assume you get numerous.
“With regards to what you state as being very high standards in relation to street cleaning, I have to beg to differ, as I drive regularly around the district and, since I moved to Uckfield in 2012 from North West London the amount of litter being removed or collected from the district as a whole, and especially in the more rural locations is non-existent.
“What is more, I find it somewhat disturbing that you are relying upon volunteer litter pickers more and more, despite increased council taxes expected in April of this year and mine in particular being between £70 and £80 higher than in previous years. That to me is unacceptable and makes me question more and more where my money is being spent.
“As for litter picking in the East Hoathly and Halland areas recently, I have seen none of that at all, and, in fact, that location is one of the worst areas I have driven through and even earlier today, so what your operatives are actually doing needs questioning I would say.
“I can only hope that you take my complaint seriously and actively send out teams to these areas to resolve the problem sooner rather than later.”
See Owen Hoy’s original complaint about littering on grass verges here: Your comments – Are others disgusted by state of our grass verges?
Feedback from other Uckfield News readers
Madeleine Judge says on the Uckfield News Facebook page: “The coubcil are not responsible for the litter, it is the idiots throwing it from their cars. They can’t be there to pick up every piece of litter as soon as it is thrown.
“Target the litter bugs not the people picking it up It’s a thankless never-ending job.”
Glen Dixon says: Ban food outlets with a Drive Through facility and half the rubbish will disappear. McDonalds etc should pay a surcharge on their UBR to facilitate roadside rubbish collection.
Robert Sutton says: “Thought it was excellent that the council did respond, but didn’t see the need to rant back again for rant sake. My question would have been can the council give me a date for the litter picking to be undertaken, or more importantly can they give a date as to when it was last litter-picked to see how long the problem has been there.”
Adin Aludos says: “I’m with Owen Hoy on this but add that the trimming of roadsides is also in great need of attention.
“As a cyclist I am constantly aware that I could be whipped by overgrown brambles and weeds as I ride by. Night time is especially a worry and danger.”
Owen Hoy comments again: “I’m really not impressed with the comments from Madeleine Judge who states that the culprits are the individuals throwing waste from their vehicles. Whilst this may be true, it is still the council’s responsibility to clear it up otherwise our lovely countryside will turn white.”
“Finally I take great exception to the comments made by Robert Sutton regarding what he says is a further rant from me. If council officials are allowed to merely offer excuses rather than solutions and not be challenged then we may as well all give up.”