SOME three years ago we began a process known as ‘Stopping Up’ to prevent access to vehicles at either end of Doles Lane; this is the narrow lane linking lower and upper Whiston. For which there are two alternative routes, both better for vehicles. Our purpose was/is to assist RMBC to reduce the level of fly-tipping on the lane; that has now reached epidemic levels, as well as restricting access to four-wheeled drive vehicles that are driven through the local wood damaging wild flowers and, across fields, damaging crops.
Before erecting gates at either end of the lane, which we will pay for, a court order allowing the ‘Stopping Up’ process to take place is required. RMBC have requested Whiston residents to contribute a further £2.2k towards the costs of this action.
At the full council meeting on July 12, I asked the council to waive this cost on behalf of Sitwell residents. After all, the lane is regularly used by residents from the whole of Whiston, from across the Sitwell ward, and beyond. Furthermore, three years ago we paid £1k to progress this matter, thus you would hardly describe the process or the organisation as nimble, agile or responsive.
You might think that they would be keen to generate a degree of goodwill amongst Whiston residents given that we will have to find the money to erect and maintain the gates that will be put in place. And it is they, RMBC who will benefit from the reduction in fly-tipping on the lane, not having to clear up, which could have and should have taken place much quicker.
However, not a chance, the response was a firm no to the request to waive the cost. And when questioned on the volume of litter in other parts of the borough the response was that the inability to clear up is due to government cuts.
Yet in Eastwood ward, where they have been forced into action through their own lack of foresight and simply allowing people who come to this country to do exactly as they please.
Under pressure from long term residents of Eastwood and opposition councillors they have put in place the much vaunted ‘Eastwood Deal’. A so-called plan to clean up the area, in practice it amounts to an un-costed set of actions providing a full-time street cleaner; and collection of fly-tipped rubbish on an almost daily basis. This is a purely reactive process, rubbish is dumped and the authority collects it.
An expectation has been created that no matter what or where rubbish is dumped, it will be collected. The Labour group have done everything they can to try to hide the cost of this action to the council. But through investigation we have determined it to be in the region of £210k over the past year of the plan. And at present there is no end in sight.
Is this fair? This money comes from council tax, and again we know which wards contribute the most, and which contribute least.
Allen Cowles, UKIP Sitwell Ward