Call for DIY council services in Herefordshire

Call for DIY council services in Herefordshire

Call for DIY council services in Herefordshire

First published in News
Last updated
Ledbury Reporter: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE era of DIY council services is near as communities across the county are urged to take on the likes of street cleaning and grass cutting for themselves.

Opposition group It’s Our County (IOC) says it’s time localism came to life as Herefordshire Council's 2014-15 service budget steers millions of pounds into roads at the expense of  - street cleaning and grass cutting.

"As it stands, spending within the Balfour Beatty Streetscene contract is skewed towards road management & maintenance, leaving such community-critical services as parks, open spaces, grass cutting, weed-killing, verges, litter and street cleaning described as discretionary," said IOC deputy leader Councillor Liz Harvey.

“The message is clear, the appearance of our neighbourhoods is no longer a priority for this council - it’s down to us," she said.

At grass roots, a number of local "In Bloom" groups are taking over flower beds and planting schemes  while sports clubs are in transfer talks over playing fields.

Communities are opting to have simple paths cut through green areas on estates and encouraging wild flowers and grasses for wildlife habitat to grow.

But Cllr Harvey says localism also means getting down and  dirty to take on littering and dog fouling.

"We have fines for both, let’s start using them,” said Cllr Harvey.

“Let’s start taking a pride in where we live, encouraging others to do the same and picking up litter when we see it dropped by others," she sad.

Parish councils in Ross & Ledbury have started community dog warden schemes.

As reported by the Hereford Times, highway maintenance is the priority for the draft service plan set for approval next month.

Councillor Price, cabinet member infrastructure, said that, as a consequence, sums to deliver routine services like grass cutting and street cleansing had reduced.

"We have had to make some difficult decisions about how and when these services are delivered," he said.

Comments (8)

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4:40pm Thu 17 Apr 14

probono says...

What a U turn. In the past when residents have made offers to cut grass on community spaces, clean and paint signs, refurbish benches and help to improve or repair community facitilies, we were told "no, has to be Jarvis/Amey/BB contractors, there is a health and safety issue, you have no insurance, its less than 50 metres from a road, and just wait a minute while we think up some more reasons to dash your enthusiasm." So Cllr Price and colleagues, you have allowed Council Officers to rebuff help in the past, how are you going to try to win the public back ? 15 years of Herefordshire Council wanting to keep everything to itself, lack of transparency and sharing has had an effect on many community minded individuals. When I see my local Councillor actually doing something, in fact anything, for the area he represents, other than pontificating about what 'they' ought to do, maybe I will get my black bag out and go litter picking. But until then...........
What a U turn. In the past when residents have made offers to cut grass on community spaces, clean and paint signs, refurbish benches and help to improve or repair community facitilies, we were told "no, has to be Jarvis/Amey/BB contractors, there is a health and safety issue, you have no insurance, its less than 50 metres from a road, and just wait a minute while we think up some more reasons to dash your enthusiasm." So Cllr Price and colleagues, you have allowed Council Officers to rebuff help in the past, how are you going to try to win the public back ? 15 years of Herefordshire Council wanting to keep everything to itself, lack of transparency and sharing has had an effect on many community minded individuals. When I see my local Councillor actually doing something, in fact anything, for the area he represents, other than pontificating about what 'they' ought to do, maybe I will get my black bag out and go litter picking. But until then........... probono
  • Score: 16

6:43pm Thu 17 Apr 14

megilleland says...

So what are these Locality Stewards that Balfour Beatty is employing going to do - keep the public at bay when they complain? Another thing they won't be cutting is the council tax. Still the grass is long enough round here to hide the dog faeces.
So what are these Locality Stewards that Balfour Beatty is employing going to do - keep the public at bay when they complain? Another thing they won't be cutting is the council tax. Still the grass is long enough round here to hide the dog faeces. megilleland
  • Score: 7

7:43am Fri 18 Apr 14

WYSIATI says...

It's inevitable - the Govt takes the money away, the services surely follow.

I would guess probono that the Council has been running scared of being sued or complained at - sued if someone hurts themselves or someone else and complained at when things don't get done. Whether we can collectively a) be bothered, b) do things sensibly and c) keep it up and d) not sue we wait to see.

I wonder whether the dog mess will get worse when we start having to pay for plastic bags in the near future, I usually have a spare or two on me to pick up the beer bottles and McDonalds rubbish when I am out walking the dog - that won't work once all I have are the miniature dog mess bags that you buy.
It's inevitable - the Govt takes the money away, the services surely follow. I would guess probono that the Council has been running scared of being sued or complained at - sued if someone hurts themselves or someone else and complained at when things don't get done. Whether we can collectively a) be bothered, b) do things sensibly and c) keep it up and d) not sue we wait to see. I wonder whether the dog mess will get worse when we start having to pay for plastic bags in the near future, I usually have a spare or two on me to pick up the beer bottles and McDonalds rubbish when I am out walking the dog - that won't work once all I have are the miniature dog mess bags that you buy. WYSIATI
  • Score: 2

11:39am Fri 18 Apr 14

saidflo says...

Inevitable as it is I just wonder how many will volunteer to do this locality tidying.
I pay local parking now £30 pa and over £1000 pa council tax, both having increased this year. My conclusion is there is more money into the coffers, from all of u,s this year. Government funding has decreased but Herefordshire landed a large additional road "pothole" grant from Government.
What is happening to this money?
Most of us must be thinking along similar lines, i.e that priorities are wrong and that our county finances are wasted on self-aggrandising schemes (ESG, County records office, carpark mania).
It seems the only thing ring fenced in Herefordshire now are current employees salaries, councillor's allowances and associated expenses.
Personally I have seen grass cut near my home a couple of times in the last few days, by Hereford Housing. I saw at least 2 vehicles each time, a tiny bit of grass cut each time and Plenty of chatting!
Hopefully efficacy is being managed well these days at Balfour Beatty and what is done is cost efficient.
Inevitable as it is I just wonder how many will volunteer to do this locality tidying. I pay local parking now £30 pa and over £1000 pa council tax, both having increased this year. My conclusion is there is more money into the coffers, from all of u,s this year. Government funding has decreased but Herefordshire landed a large additional road "pothole" grant from Government. What is happening to this money? Most of us must be thinking along similar lines, i.e that priorities are wrong and that our county finances are wasted on self-aggrandising schemes (ESG, County records office, carpark mania). It seems the only thing ring fenced in Herefordshire now are current employees salaries, councillor's allowances and associated expenses. Personally I have seen grass cut near my home a couple of times in the last few days, by Hereford Housing. I saw at least 2 vehicles each time, a tiny bit of grass cut each time and Plenty of chatting! Hopefully efficacy is being managed well these days at Balfour Beatty and what is done is cost efficient. saidflo
  • Score: 8

7:51pm Fri 18 Apr 14

WYSIATI says...

saidflo - you hit the nail on the head and show the genius of this Govt - they cut the central Govt grant enormously and the council has to raise other charges - even if council tax has risen less than inflation. End result council has substantially less money but council tax payers think they are paying more. Roughly 2/3 of the money the council spends comes from central Govt, council tax is only a small part.
saidflo - you hit the nail on the head and show the genius of this Govt - they cut the central Govt grant enormously and the council has to raise other charges - even if council tax has risen less than inflation. End result council has substantially less money but council tax payers think they are paying more. Roughly 2/3 of the money the council spends comes from central Govt, council tax is only a small part. WYSIATI
  • Score: 4

10:52pm Fri 18 Apr 14

probono says...

The extra houses around the County, with more to come, are also bringing in extra Council Tax, and many of the developers are paying a contribution to local services as part of their planning, so as asked above, where is this going. I pay over £60 a week in council tax and still await the filling of a deep and dangerous pothole near my home. I also maintain for HC a piece of grass verge - for this 'honour' I had to apply for a Licence to Cultivate ' just to keep it clean and tidy for people to enjoy the seat on it and the view. I also maintain the seat, but that is a secret because I never got a load of paperwork to do that !
The extra houses around the County, with more to come, are also bringing in extra Council Tax, and many of the developers are paying a contribution to local services as part of their planning, so as asked above, where is this going. I pay over £60 a week in council tax and still await the filling of a deep and dangerous pothole near my home. I also maintain for HC a piece of grass verge - for this 'honour' I had to apply for a Licence to Cultivate ' just to keep it clean and tidy for people to enjoy the seat on it and the view. I also maintain the seat, but that is a secret because I never got a load of paperwork to do that ! probono
  • Score: 8

11:51am Sat 19 Apr 14

WYSIATI says...

probono - more houses and more council tax but if 2/3 of money needed to provide services comes from central Govt then only 1/3 comes from the new houses - so you add cost with more people, more waste, etc but only get a fraction of the money back.

The county is going to need more and more people like you willing to go out and cut the grass, look after a seat - and a few willing to take on looking after the old and infirm as well.
probono - more houses and more council tax but if 2/3 of money needed to provide services comes from central Govt then only 1/3 comes from the new houses - so you add cost with more people, more waste, etc but only get a fraction of the money back. The county is going to need more and more people like you willing to go out and cut the grass, look after a seat - and a few willing to take on looking after the old and infirm as well. WYSIATI
  • Score: 4

11:24am Tue 22 Apr 14

probono says...

WYSIATI - yes just like the old days, look after your own relations in their dotage, and keep your community tidy and clean. But this ethic has not, and is not presently, being drummed into the younger generation, who have been brought up and educated to believe the magic 'THEY' will do it all, usually because they believe THEY are paid for it.
WYSIATI - yes just like the old days, look after your own relations in their dotage, and keep your community tidy and clean. But this ethic has not, and is not presently, being drummed into the younger generation, who have been brought up and educated to believe the magic 'THEY' will do it all, usually because they believe THEY are paid for it. probono
  • Score: 5

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