Don't cut street sweeping and litter picking in Worcester, say politicians

Worcester News: Worcester: we want it to stay clean, says committee Worcester: we want it to stay clean, says committee

PLEAS are being made to reverse cuts in street sweeping and litter picking in Worcester - with politicians saying keeping the city clean is "vital" to taxpayers.

The city council is planning to slash £80,000 from its budget for keeping Worcester clean - nearly 10 per cent of its yearly spend.

It also wants to reduce £22,000 off the cost of emptying litter and dog bins in Worcester, as part of plans to save £4.1 million by 2018.

Most of that money will be saved by 2016, with work currently underway about what areas will take a hit.

During a debate at the Guildhall last night, a committee agreed to ask the city's Labour leadership to re-think the move.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, opposition Tory group leader, said: "At one stage we doubled the funding for things like littler and dog bins so I can't believe we're now looking at a reduction.

"Let's not pretend it won't lead to a reduction in service levels, some areas will take a hit.

"I understand the pressures on the budget but this is an area people care about.

"If a place looks filthy and bins don't get emptied we can have all the great strategic ideas in the world, produce all the glossy videos we want, but it won't matter.

"I fear it's a retrograde step and we can't support it."

Councillor Neil Laurenson, a Green Party politician, said: "It's obvious to say we should not be reducing spending in the 'cleaner and greener' services, so let's stop talking about it and put forward a proposal to save money elsewhere."

Other councillors said they were concerned the cuts would damage the city's reputation.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson said: "I'm concerned about how the city will look once these savings are made, especially on the road sweeping.

"When I was the Mayor of Worcester (2008/09) I remember going along to collect a national award, I think we were something like the eighth cleanest city in the country.

"We don't want to lose that. The city centre is important but so are the gateways to the city."

The views from the debate, during the performance, management and budget scrutiny committee, will be fed back to the Labour-led cabinet.

Councillor Joy Squires, who chaired the committee, said the cabinet would be asked to look it it one more time.

The city council's current street cleaning budget is £854,470, with an 18-strong team doing a range of environmental tasks, including grass cutting.

The city is attended to daily and outerlying areas are divided into zones and cleaned on a rough 10 day cycle.

The council says it is confident the savings can be made "with very little difference to residents" by developing a more responsive approach.

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