B&NES have called a press conference for Tuesday morning – July 5th – regarding proposals for waste and keeping the streets clean in the district.
It’s been called by Cllr Martin Veal – who is Cabinet member for Community Services.
All over the city, there’s evidence of refuse bags being ripped open by animals and birds and the contents spread across pavements and roads.
Recently l chanced upon Cllr Martin Veal and the Council’s city-centre street litter enforcement officer – in the company of Jon Raby who is Ranger Services Manager for Bath Business Improvement District ( Bath Bid).
It was the question of split rubbish bags, and the mixing of refuse – including food waste – inside them, that was being discussed.
The Council has already warned that people who don’t bag their rubbish properly could be fined £60. The fine rises to £100 pounds for business premises.
However, while this IS a financial threat, it seems uncertain as to whether the Council has the power or finances to deal with enforcing penalties quickly.
Hon Alderman David Dixon – a former councillor and Cabinet member himself – has shown an email he received from Carol Maclellan – Group Manager for Neighbourhood Environmental Services within B&NES – in which she says the enforcement legislation the Council once had has now been decriminalised.
‘Local authorities do not have the quick powers to take action they once had. I have detailed the process we have to go through below for your information. This is now admin intensive and makes it much more difficult for us to take quick action on these matters.
We have limited resource to knock on doors, so are reliant on members of the public providing us with evidence. We ask members of the public to email Council connect with photographs and specific details of the address and time the waste was out, so that we can move to Stage 1 below more quickly.
We will go and knock on doors also if resource allows, but we can’t guarantee this. We are committed to taking enforcement action where the evidence allows however, and have funding for an additional enforcement officer this year to lead on this.’
The email lists the various stages of dealing with a persistent offender – from issuing a warning to a Fixed Penalty Notice.
Ms Maclellan says the Council’s published waste strategy details a review of the areas ‘waste collection methodology’ this year, and that reducing street litter arising from the collection service is a key objective in this review.
Hon Alderman Dixon has shown me the reply he sent to Ms Mclellan, in which he says he is ‘so sorry to hear that this Conservative government has made your life so difficult from an enforcement point of view and now so detrimental to the street scene for many residents of Bath and North East Somerset and very importantly the residents of Oldfield, Westmoreland, Widcombe, Kingsmead and Abbey Ward.
Maybe our MP might help by taking this issue to parliament rather than simply “encouraging the council to take stronger action against residents and businesses who fail to bag their waste properly or to put it out at the wrong time.”
His government has now diluted your powers to take such action so I hope that now he has experienced first hand the result of this he may encourage his government to support local authorities better by granting them the powers to take such action that he speaks of?
I will look forward tithe review of collection methodology, but I have grave concerns that whatever methodology is in place will be deemed practically unenforceable.’
Meanwhile, returning to my encounter with our Cabinet member for Community Services – l sensed Councillor Veal was on a bit of a fact-finding mission.
There are many things to be considered.
Surely it’s clear that the gulls are a symptom of the problem and not the cause.
Rubbish is not being properly bagged. Food waste is being thrown away – which gulls can easily smell – and bags are being left out long before they are due to be collected.
One hopes B&NES will also consider whether gull proof bags should be issued to every household, whether the Universities are really being tough enough with ensuring students dispose of their rubbish properly, and whether collections might be better made at night or through the night.
Having got tough with A-boards, a lot of people are hoping B&NES will also adopt a ‘zero tolerance ‘ policy with those littering our streets – despite their loss of speedy enforcement powers.
Residents are going to have to play their part too and that includes landlords getting tough with tenants!
On Facebook, many local people are subscribing to a group called ‘Streets of Shame’ and posting pictures of streets in the city that are strewn with the contents of broken bags. Maybe it’s time to go back to dustbins!
Bath Newseum’s call for a public meeting to discuss the rubbish issue has been getting a lukewarm response in some quarters with a warning that such a meeting would disintegrate into a ‘bit of a bun-fight.’
There was another issue in Northumberland Place this morning where a trader – who has been refused planning permission to have a stall outside his shop – was still displaying goods. It’s my understanding a warning has been given.