Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
After giving up the battle to post a comment on this Weblog, Cllr Ingrid Spencer, who I spoke with a week ago, has very kindly taken prompt action on behalf of residents and written a reply to the earlier concerns expressed over seafront rubbish and other issues. She briefly refers to my observation over Heroin "sharps" but I did point out that when I discovered these, nobody from the council actually came 24 hours after I had reported their presence on the seafront to the council and so I very carefully disposed of them myself. She writes
Dear Dr Moores,
Further to our telephone conversation regarding rubbish in Westgate.
• It is a priority of this Conservative Administration to see a clean, tidy and safe Thanet that all residents can take pride in.
• After more than a decade of the ubiquitous black bags that have been a blight on Thanet, this Conservative administration is introducing wheeled bins to the majority of the island. This will have a twofold effect: proper containment of waste will drastically reduce the amount of littering by cutting off a source of food supply to seagulls, vermin and other animals that forage in the bags and windblown litter resulting from poorly secured bags; whilst at the same time increasing the level of recycling. Those properties deemed not suitable for wheeled bin containment will not be excluded. Officers are in contact with other Authorities regarding alternative methods, what works and what has not worked so well. Changing attitudes will not happen overnight, but once TDC has done “its bit” in supplying the means, then residents unwilling to accept their responsibilities will be targeted and enforcement action taken. The present system makes enforcement extremely difficult.
• There are only two authorities in England and Wales that pay more for street cleansing than for waste collection. Oxford is one and Thanet the other. Whilst I do not know Oxford’s reason, I am certain there is a direct correlation between the poor method of waste containment in Thanet and the amount spent on clearing litter. This has been borne out in the S.W.A.P. report into Thanet’s waste service.
• Since taking control of TDC, this administration has increased the amount of recycling from a paltry 4% in 2001/02, 6.4% in 2002/03, to 13.47% in 2003/04, missing our target by .53%. This year we should achieve our statutory recycling target of 18%. Considering where we started and the extremely limited amount of resources at our disposal, this achievement in such a very short space of time is a credit to both the staff of our waste and recycling department and the willingness of Thanet’s residents to recycle. This administration takes its responsibilities to Thanet and the wider global community very seriously. Considering the Kyoto agreement was signed in 1997 and the EU Landfill Directive in 1999, I was surprised to find that no provision whatsoever had been made for recycling in the waste contract signed by the previous administration in 1999.
• The frequency of beach cleansing does decrease during the winter months. Similarly, a considerable number of litterbins are put into storage during the winter and re-installed for the season. Each bin costs between £300/£400 and vandals destroy many each year. This summer, there will be even more bins on Thanet’s beaches supplied through our Environmental Action Programme, an initiative introduced by this Conservative administration.
• You are possibly aware that TDC is bringing the waste and street cleansing contract back in-house as from April 2006. The grounds maintenance contract has already been brought back in and we are looking to streamline and integrate the services in order to remove barriers to more cohesive working.
•As part of the new service, we shall be investing in more mechanised cleansing methods. This will be in addition to the Schmidt machine purchased from my budget that has been instrumental in cleaning from the town centres years of accumulated ingrained grime, and is now used extensively by the Environmental Action team. The next area to be targeted by the EAP is Cliftonville West.
• With regards to the Westgate matters you raised, I arranged to have the area swept and litter-picked and I twice visited the site on Thursday to ensure the work was being carried out. SITA were clearing rubbish and removing litter caught in the fencing whilst at the same time, TDC’s grounds maintenance crew were weeding the rockery and clearing litter from the beds.
• The matters you raised regarding drug supply I shall pass on to the Community Safety Partnership.
• I checked with Peter Thomas over the matter of drug paraphernalia on West Bay; a team from TDC had been sent down but could not find any syringes etc.
• Westgate will soon see new floral enhancements along the Canterbury Road, courtesy of the Environmental Action Programme.
• The sunken gardens at Westbrook do give rise to problems. It’s prone to vandalism and wanton destruction. Two years ago I had to call out emergency services at the weekend as vandals had broken off a tap head and water had been gushing out since at least the day before. As I think I mentioned to you, I have seen mothers sitting chatting whilst their children have run through the flower beds trampling plants and compacting the soil. It’s not just yobs who ruin the environment for others, but a society that has difficulty with the word “no” and the concept that rights go hand-in-hand with responsibilities.
If there is any further information I can give in respect of my portfolio I shall be happy to do so.
Cllr Ingrid Spencer
Westgate Ward Councillor
Cabinet Member for the Environment & Community Development