A cross-party group of councillors has called for greater scrutiny of plans to cut Sheffield’s street cleaning service. In August the council proposed a range of changes designed to save £12 million from the street cleaning budget over the next 20 years.
Reducing the frequency of cleaning in residential areas and replacing manual litter pickers with street sweeping machines in areas such as the city centre were among the ideas put forward as people were warned to expect dirtier streets. Although the council insists Sheffield’s service will still be better than that of most other UK cities, Liberal Democrat and Green Party councillors want further discussion. They have called in the proposals for further scrutiny, and a special meeting will be held on the issue tomorrow morning. The council says it is able to alter the Streets Ahead contract because the proposals are not a ‘material change’. Lib Dem and Green councillors want more discussion on the plans. Lib Dem deputy leader coun Penny Baker said: “Back in March, we found money to not only save our street cleaning budget from cuts but invest more money in it, but this was voted against by the majority Labour group. “How can residents have pride in our area if even the council doesn’t?
“I’ve had numerous complaints about litter, fly-tipping, graffiti and dog fouling. There’s even been reports in the local press about needles left on streets. “The Labour council may not think litter is an issue, but I certainly do.” Coun Rob Murphy, a Green member for the city ward, added: “Clearing litter is one of the basic services that people expect from their council. “While we need to work on long-term solutions like deposits on bottles, it is important any changes are made with the support of the public.
“Here Sheffield Labour have carried on with their ‘we know best’ attitude that will leave our streets dirtier.” The council wants to change the terms of the Streets Ahead contract with Amey to reduce the number of ‘cleanses’ in residential areas of the city from four a year to three.. It also wants to increase the response time to complaints of fly-tipping from one business day to two. And the authority has proposed replacing manual collections in the city centre and in hotspots such as shopping streets with street cleaning machines – which could lead to a drop in standards in some areas. It is hoped the changes – which also include the introduction of smart bins’ which sense how full they are and report back – will save about £600,000 per year for the remaining 20 years of the Streets Ahead contract, or £12 million.