THURROCK cabinet members were grilled over plans to cut street cleaning and plant wild flowers on grass verges to help tackle the council’s £34.3million funding gap reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Street scene services are hoping to save £100,000 by cutting street cleaning, including reviewing cleaning of major routes and town centre cleaning.
Ground maintenance is also set to be cut with wildflower zones in parks and some verges and seven full-time jobs will be lost.
Joycelyn Redsell, chairman of the cleaner, greener and safer overview and scrutiny committee attended the cabinet meeting on Wednesday asking for reassurances on job losses and lower standards on street cleaning.
She said: “We know savings have to be made. That is logical but we’re asking what posts could become vacant and is it possible to retrain the staff in other area?
“Street cleansing is the one thing everybody notices in the borough
We obviously don’t want our roads and paths to suffer the cuts. We have also got to remind the public it is the general public on most of the paths and fields that do leave their rubbish everywhere and somebody has to clear up.”
Ms Redsell asked if different fencing could be used to deter nuisance bikers. She also asked for assurances wildflower areas wouldn’t become unkempt and cause problems on roads.
In response Andrew Jeffries, councillor responsible for environment, sports and leisure, said there would be no lowering of standards.
He said: “I can’t give exact posts that are going but I am sure that officers will follow all employment laws to make sure that suitable employment is found elsewhere if somebody should be looking at moving employment.
“With street cleaning our town centres and parks, the idea is that we’ve got machinery that we can now use which is more efficient, quicker and can clean more.”
He added: “It’s not the intention to see things overgrown. The idea is to enhance our parks and open spaces. Where you’ve got a verge between roads we are having to close roads and slow traffic down to be able to go out and cut that grass.
“With a bit of imagination and some planting with the right sort of plants, we then don’t have to maintain that area as often as we do, plus it looks a whole lot better than just letting the grass grow and then having to close the road.”
Chairman Rob Gledhill revealed there could be a new type of fencing in some parks that may deter nuisance motor bikers. He said: “I had a separate meeting to raise the issue with the motorbikes with the task force I sit on and I suggested dead wood hedging.
“It’s very difficult to get through it’s also a fantastic wildlife sanctuary. Officers are looking to implement that in certain areas.”