Calderdale Council merges highways and green spaces teams

A new combined council team is streamlining the process of dealing with issues arising from Calderdale’s highways and green spaces.

Duties the new team deals with takes in keeping neighbourhoods and town centres clean, maintaining parks and open spaces, looking after play areas, allotments, and sports pitches, repairing potholes, pavements, walls and drainage, protecting and and enhance the countryside, keeping the highway network open in bad weather and dealing with a range of highway-related emergencies round the clock.

From sweeping streets via collecting litter to fixing potholes, issues relating to these probably populated members’ email inboxes more than any other issue except waste management, said Andrew Pitts, Head of Neighbourhoods at Calderdale Council in a Halifax Courier report.

“My overall summary would be that the service has made a positive start, but it is very much work in progress,” said Mr Pitts.

The service needed to use technology more, it needed to get a grip on fly-tipping, not just on enforcement but also clearing it up, and engage more with local communities and getting local people involved, he told the council’s Place Scrutiny Board.

An opportunity had also been given to the council to change the way it looked at maintenance programmes – at what is needed rather than what was historically done, said Mr Pitts.

Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said an issue constituents often raised was provision of bins to encourage dog walkers to pick up after their pets and another issue of concern was how gulley cleaning routes were worked.

Calderdale had one vehicle which stuck to main routes and this did not help with localised flooding where a lot of the affected gulleys were on side roads, said Coun Bellenger.

Mr Pitts said with bins it was a cased of looking at the right places in sufficient numbers at places like exits and entrances and the public should also not just drop of leave things if there was not one in the immediate vicinity but carry it to the nearest bin.

“We’ve got to make sure local people take some responsibility for their actions – don’t throw things on the floor if if there isn’t a bin there,” said Mr Pitts.

Commenting on the move, Councillor Regan Dickenson (Con, Rastrick) said when the teams were merged there was talk about synergies producing savings and asked if there had been any?

Mr Pitts said a £50,000 saving had been made by the act of merging the two teams, money was being saved in procurement and it was no longer the case, for example, that two different teams would be involved in a council road repair, jobs which needed doing were now done at once, reducing disruption.

The board were told machinery had been adapted to do different jobs and a “nearest resource” policy was pursued to clear up fly-tipping, for example.

Coun Angie Gallagher (Lab, Elland) wondered regarding fly-tipping whether the council worked hand in hand with supermarkets – some have recycling elements within their car parks.

Mr Pitts said retailers were often very reluctant to house these as people often just dumped things there – but the council’s own household waste sites could recycle anything.

Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) asked what powers the council had over issues like dog fouling – how many tickets had been issued to them and also to fly-tippers.

If the council did not use the powers it had, it was fighting a losing battle and the only way was to publicise it when people were caught, he said.

Mr Pitts agreed enforcement should be used as a deterrent.

Coun Bellenger said in terms of crossover between community groups and the council, a topic raised by Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) it should potentially explore encouraging litter “champions” in each ward.


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