The Post goes hunting for fly tips with council leader Darren Rodwell
PUBLISHED: 12:04 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:52 13 October 2017
"My grandparents used to live down there. My parents' first house was just here. My aunt and uncle used to live in that house on the corner. For me, this is personal."
That was the decleration from council leader Darren Rodwell when he was joined by The Post for his annual inspection of the borough’s public spaces.
Every year he drives around all the wards, one each week, on the lookout for weeds, fly tips and “eyesore gardens.”
On our drive, most of the streets we went down were generally very neat and tidy - the council’s team of leaf and litter pickers had clearly been at work.
“I am proud of the work we’re doing and it’s great that we do all this work in house - we don’t contract it out like other councils,” he said.
However there was the usual smattering of fly tips - a couple of fridges, piles of black bags, even a ripped out seat from a car.
There were also some “eyesore gardens” - front lawns residents have decided, for one reason or another, to decorate with a range of household items including mattresses, broken furniture and piles of bricks.
The owners of these gardens will at first receive letters from the council warning them they need to tidy up the mess. If they fail to comply the council can do the clearing and bill them for it.
Cllr Rodwell was also on the lookout for streets where weeds growing on the edge of the road need killing, as well as streets with faded road markings.
Our drive around Eastbrook and Mayesbrook wards was punctuated by phone calls from Cllr Rodwell back to the town hall as he reported things he had seen that needed clearing up.
He says the council are “working hard to hold up their end of the deal,” but clean streets rely on cooperation from residents - not only to not litter, but to report fly tips.
“The vast majority of people are responsible and do look after the area, but we need to make sure we crack down on the minority who are causing the problems,” he said.
“This is a matter of civic pride.”
He also reports cases of cracked, worn out pavement and road - although he admits the council can only afford to act in severe cases.
“It would cost about £120 million to sort it all out, and unfortunately we don’t have that kind of money.”
Cllr Rodwell said that on each of his ward inspections this year he has noticed an improvement on the previous round.