This week’s guest column comes from Boston Borough Council leader Peter Bedford...
One of the concerns I hear from residents is degradation caused by littering, graffiti, vandalism, dog mess, spitting and anti-social behaviour.
As a council we have combated all of these issues over the years, with some success. But I still often hear or read comments about the streets being full of litter. While there are some problem spots, by and large the streets are reasonably clean. We employ our own street cleaners, but simple economics mean they cannot be everywhere, every day.
I am extremely grateful for community-minded individuals who give of their own time to help keep areas clean and tidy. We have litter champions who work tirelessly and then numbers swell massively each year when the annual Big Boston Clean-up and the Big Schools Clean-up get under way. Members of the public are joined by council staff and staff from partner agencies, who all muck in.
Our grounds maintenance staff are some of the most dedicated workers you are ever likely to meet. They take enormous pride in their work. Some of them even grow plants at their homes to help areas such as Central Park look beautiful.
As with the street cleaners, economics dictate that they, too, cannot be everywhere all of the time, and so I am also grateful for the help we get from volunteers such as the Boston In Bloom team and Boston Greenscapers. Some of these initiatives are nationally applauded , such as Operation Fly Swat – a first for the country where we and partner agencies have organised a borough-wide fly-tip clean-up force using free labour from North Sea Camp.
This is all good news. The sad aspect is that, as a council, we would be able to do so much more if we didn’t have people’s rubbish to clean up in the first place. And that’s why we are regularising our fight against environmental crime with an environmental enforcement strategy, drafted in response to the council’s recent task and finish group on street cleansing. It will be presented to the council’s Cabinet for approval next week (Tuesday, December 3). Its aim is to protect the health, safety, amenity, environment and local economy of and for people living in, working in and visiting our borough.
Action on littering, fly-tipping, dog fouling, graffiti, urinating in the streets, fly-posting and abandoning a vehicle will all be covered by a robust strategy. It will raise awareness and, where necessary, prescribe enforcement action.
You may have read in the last few weeks of individuals caught by our newly-upgraded CCTV system urinating in a public place and causing graffiti . They have been dealt with – two men who urinated have to pay £75 fines and the two lads who sprayed graffiti cleaned it off. These instances demonstrate that there are few hiding places for those who act in an anti-social manner. We do, however, sometimes rely on information from the public to identify offenders. One way of doing this is through a name and shame campaign through the media. Watch this space.
While I cannot prejudge any planning applications to come before the council I am encouraged by the recent proposals unveiled by Chestnut Homes for land at Wyberton which have the potential to provide the first piece of a jigsaw which will present us with a long-awaited distributor, or relief, road. Lincolnshire County Council is going to conduct a full traffic impact assessment for the whole of the town. It has taken a long time to get to this point, but now things may move very fast indeed.