Keeping the Highlands beautiful - Street Cleaning cuts reduced by two thirds
Proposals going before The Highland Council on Thursday propose a reduction of £220,000 from a total budget of £3.029 million.
Budget Leader, Cllr Bill Fernie said: “In our original proposals were looking at a cut of £660,000 from the street cleaning budget, so the cut we are now proposing is significantly less by two thirds. We recognise that Street Cleaning makes a significant contribution to the attractive appearance of the Highlands for visitors, businesses and residents and therefore we have worked with officers to see how we can make a smaller cut, but mitigate the impact of this as much as possible.
“The effects of this saving can be mitigated through the development of a more strategic approach to tackling litter through increased engagement and enforcement, and the development of infrastructure to minimise the amount of litter created.
“The Council currently has a very high standard and over the last 6 years has been consistently ranked as in the top 5 councils for street cleanliness. It is proposed that existing standards are maintained in areas of high footfall such as City and Town Centres, and around tourist attractions and educational establishments. The savings will be realised by reducing street cleaning activity in residential areas and low usage routes throughout the Highlands. Mitigation can also be provided through improvements in efficiency and productivity through increased mechanisation and use of technology.”
Cllr Fernie added: “We cannot as a council work in isolation to keep the streets clean. It is also a responsibility of individuals to keep their environment a pleasant and tidy one. Many countries are far less tolerant of littering in their culture and I hope that we can work with communities to build a different attitude towards our environment where everyone plays their own part in keeping the Highlands beautiful.”
The Council has a duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to keep its streets free from litter. The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse 2006 provides standards to which Councils should clean their streets, and a measurement system that allows Councils to monitor their performance both internally and nationally.
This measurement system, the Local Environmental Audit Management System, suggests that a score of 67 or above is acceptable. The latest audit of the cleanliness of the Council’s streets undertaken by Keep Scotland Beautiful in August 2016 identified that the Council’s current score is 88.1
The indicator currently being used nationally by the Local Government Benchmarking Framework is the percentage of streets that are in an acceptable condition. Over the last 6 years the Council has consistently been ranked in the top 5 Councils in Scotland in terms of street cleanliness. There was a dip last year but the latest validation audit by Keep Scotland Beautiful indicates that the Council’s performance has improved significantly since then.