The original title of this post was going to be “How seriously are Bristol Clean Streets and a tidy BS5 being taken?” However, the title of Sergio Leone’s 1966 Spaghetti Western seemed more appropriate.

The good

Bristol Clean Streets logoTwo weeks ago on Saturday on 6th May, there was a great community effort in East Bristol to clean up local streets and public open spaces as part of the Tidy BS5 “Beating the Bounds” event (posts passim).

This event attracted some high-level support from, amongst others, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, Kurt James who’s leading the council’s Bristol Clean Streets initiative, Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy, and local councillors, with whom your ‘umble scribe was able to discuss matters.

Beating the Bounds St George Park

Some of the Beating the Bounds litter pickers in St George Park

It should be noted for the record that both Marvin and Kurt completed the whole 5 km route, clearing loads of crud on their way.

The bad & the ugly

Serious doubts are now being expressed, not just by local campaigners but councillors too, about the official commitment to tidier streets in Easton and Lawrence Hill wards, as something is clearly going amiss between the fine words coming out of the Counts Louse (aka City Hall. Ed.) and what is actually happening on the streets.

These doubts are being reinforced by recent press coverage that the council and its agents cannot even keep city centre amenities clean and tidy, in addition to which another report suggests that citizen action to remove litter is being discouraged.

Fly-tipping seems to be on the increase again; and that which is reported is not always collected in a timely manner (within 2 working days of being reported, according to the council’s website. Ed.) or the first time it is reported. On the latter point I speak from personal experience, having had to report one site three times before it was finally removed.

However, third time lucky is not the worst of it. Look at the picture below. You may notice the round pink sticker on the bin. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a sticker that was affixed by Bristol Waste to fly-tipped waste for collection as part the communal bins trial near the end of last year (posts passim). That means that particular instance of fly-tipping has been awaiting collection for over 6 months!

6 month old fly-tipping in Easton

Tagged as fly-tipping in November 2016 by Bristol Waste, still awaiting removal in May 2017

When we started campaigning some years ago, Tidy BS5 supporters were informed that bin lorry crews and street sweepers are supposed to report fly-tipping for collection. Clearly those paying their regular visits to St Mark’s Grove are suffering from either actual or selective blindness and illiteracy.

Although the communal bins for household waste have now all disappeared from the Stapleton Road corridor, the trade bins still remain and – just like the ones that were removed – are still acting as magnets for fly-tipping.

Stapleton Road trade bins with associated fly-tipping

Trade bins on Stapleton Road are still attracting both fly-tipped trade and domestic waste

I’ve asked the council whether there’s any legal means of removing the trade bins from the street as they’re not only attracting fly-tipping, but fly-posting and graffiti too – two more targets for the Bristol Clean Streets initiative. Not only that, but they look ugly and take up a lot of public space. Should the public purse be subsidising local business by providing public storage facilities for private property?

Litter and street cleaning also fall under the Bristol Clean Streets initiative. Just how well are they going?

The answer would appear to be that they’re not really going anywhere. All streets are supposed to be cleaned regularly, but this photograph of conditions on the ground in Croydon Street in March 2017 tells a different story. The leaves came off the trees during autumn storms in November 2016. This clearly illustrates how infrequently and/or badly that street is cleaned.

Croydon Street leaf litter

Croydon Street, March 2017. Leaf litter left uncleared 4 months after autumn storms

When contacted, the council acknowledged the the level of cleanliness was below standard, but that parked vehicles make it difficult to get street cleansing vehicles in to deal with it. However, one doesn’t have to be a genius to consider viable and acceptable alternatives… like sending in a bloke with a brush instead!

It’s not just above ground that litter accumulates. One of my regular routes is the pedestrian subway under from Easton Road under the Easton Way dual carriageway. This 1960s planning mistake is not the most pleasant pedestrian facility to use. However its use is made even less attractive by it seemingly being permanently full of litter (we won’t mention the persistent and all-pervasive smell of urine. Ed.). This state of affairs only seems to be alleviated somewhat a few days after I or other public-spirited residents report it as requiring attention.

Finally, let’s turn to fly-posting, another target for Bristol Clean Streets. This too, like dirty streets and fly-tipping, is supposed to be removed within 2 working days of being reported according to the council website. But what’s actually happening on the ground?

Easton Road fly-posting

Fly-posting on Easton Road. Reported at Easter. Still there in mid-May.

Your ‘umble scribe reported the above instance at Easter. However, one month later in mid-May it was still there. I understand it has now been removed by a local resident taking matters into their own hands. In addition, I’m aware that other local residents bothered by fly-posting do likewise and remove it themselves without involving the council’s enforcement team who on the available evidence are too busy to deal with BS5 or incapable of doing so.

Conclusion

It would appear that Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste have taken their eye off the ball locally following the initial flurry of enforcement activity and education that accompanied the communal bins trial and matters are once again slowly declining.

Whilst regular litter picks and other action by local residents should be continue to be encouraged, there also needs to be consistent action and pressure on the less tidy and civic-minded of our local residents by both Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste.

In addition, to encouragement, this action and pressure can be summarised in a further two words starting with “e“, i.e. education and enforcement; education to treat our local streets better and enforcement when the encouragement and education are insufficient.

Without additional effort the Bristol Clean Streets initiative and aspirations for a Tidy BS5 will just end up on the bonfire of council failures funded by local residents out of their increasingly unaffordable and poor value for money council tax.

Do you agree or disagree with the above analysis? Comment below.