Our streets need to be cleaned up

The Conservative View with Cllr Rob Lee SUS-170623-111550001
The Conservative View with Cllr Rob Lee SUS-170623-111550001

High on the list of items people feel most concerned about locally, along with the outrageous and avoidable closure of the Harold Place Toilets, is the state of our streets.

The general condition of our public spaces in the town centre can be described as poor.

This is not just a matter of civic pride though; litter-strewn streets are unsanitary and of course unsightly.

If we wish to continue pushing our visitor numbers upwards we obviously need to present the town in the best possible light.

It is high time that much more was done to make every street in Hastings and St Leonards an attractive and welcoming place.

We have seen much positive change in our town over recent years such as falling unemployment, the Pier (of course) and the growth of an exciting arts scene with cultural and economic regeneration moving ahead quickly.

With all this encouraging activity happening, the very least Hastings Council should be doing is keeping our streets and roads up to a high standard, if a Council was solely judged on its street cleaning it could be argued that Hastings Council is currently failing.

Recently Hastings Council have announced the arrival of new Wardens who will be patrolling the streets handing out fixed penalty notices to those who spoil your town with their careless littering, this is welcome but enforcement is only one part of the solution.

The Council needs to play its part in improving the street scene not just punish wrong doers. Public bins need to be emptied before they are overflowing and pavements need to be cleaned rather than just swept.

Happily an opportunity has arisen for us to make some positive and speedy change in this area. Hastings Borough Council has some options to choose from when it comes to the provision of street cleaning.

Currently the street cleaning is conducted in conjunction with the bin collection contract, which as you may be aware is coming to an end soon.

The Council could opt to find another private supplier through a tendering process, this would prove to be an economical option but we may find ourselves with no better quality of service than we currently have and be tied into a contract for some years.

This would be a decision that could prove to be a wasted opportunity for the Borough.

The second option is to bring the whole thing, brooms and all, in house and run it directly from the Borough.

This has some distinct advantages to the town including a much-needed increase in standards and greater accountability when things go wrong.

However the costs of bringing this in house and running the service may prove to be more expensive than expected.

Whatever is finally decided must be done in the best interests of Hastings and St Leonards and not a narrow political standpoint of public versus private sector, importantly it must be something we can afford, whilst delivering the first class service and public spaces that the town deserves.