Herefordshire Council’s portfolio holder for highways, Paul Rone, is getting a unique insight into the way Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) is operating by joining crews at work.
For his first assignment he became part of a two-person team dispatched to deal with fly tipping at Perton, east of Hereford, where an assortment of rubbish had been dumped in a country lane.
Wearing high visibility clothing, Cllr Rone set about the clean-up to leave the site pristine before taking the 200 kilogrammes of rubbish to the tip at Rotherwas.
“To collect a little over 200 kilogrammes of rubbish, which is a fifth of a tonne, it took two people and a vehicle all morning and then there was the administrative side. It costs hundreds of pounds to clean up what could very easily have been taken to the local tip by the person who dumped it for nothing,” he said.
He added: “Every year Herefordshire residents are picking up a six figure bill thanks to illegal fly tipping. It costs us £5,500 a week for reactionary cleaning such as fly tipping and disposing of household rubbish dumped by litter bins. “
By shadowing staff at BBLP, which is contracted by the Council to look after highways maintenance and improvement works, street lighting and street cleaning, as well as public rights of way, parks and open spaces, Cllr Rone is learning how the work is being carried out.
“The whole idea is to find out what happens from start to finish. From what I’ve found out so far, it is a highly professional service and makes sure every person who is going out cleaning or enforcing is trained and supplied with the goods and equipment they need to do the job.”
The Council is making budget savings of £33m over the next two years and has prioritised spending on vulnerable children and adults, the creation of jobs and homes and on roads
Grass cutting is one of the services to be affected and has reduced grass cuts from seven to three a year in some places and some locations have been excluded from the schedule.
Cllr Rone said they were learning the lessons of this season and would carry them forward to next year, but added groups and individuals could get involved in taking care of their areas.
“It is utter rubbish to say that residents aren’t allowed to cut the grass and that the Council will take you to court. If you want to take responsibility for the land outside your house, or for the walkway you use to cut through to the children’s play area, by all means do it sensibly, do it with great thought and consideration for those around you and for yourself, but by all means you carry out that cut.”
Grass cutting maps, timetables and DIY guides are available on the Council’s website. https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/grass-cutting
Next month BBLP will start to repair the county's roads in a £20m programme of resurfacing which will be delivered over the next two years.