Flying tipping can be dangerous and annoying, this open bin was full of putrid water next to a children’s playground and I was concerned that it was only after I had reported it the third time directly to the Council officer responsible that I managed to get action to remove it. The first two attempts using the Council’s online form for fly tipping were unsuccessful, the contractor apparently decided to log it as a missing bin collection despite my report highlighting this was not the case. The Council’s online form does not give a receipt and feedback is not provided to those that report fly tipping incidents on whether their request has been accepted. This would be particularly the case if fly tipping is not on public land and therefore the responsibility of the landowner to clear and not the council.
I have been reassured that the bulk of responses to removing fly tipping are within 24 hours but it needs to do better in providing feedback to residents that take the trouble to report fly tipping and improve its digital approach to reporting such issues. I have been promised a review is taking place to remedy some of these issues so look forward to improvements. Mid Sussex has one of the lowest reported rates of fly tipping, it needs to ensure this is not because of reporting issues.
We participated in the Great British Clean Up this morning organised by Keep Britain Tidy. The Town Council has arranged seven public clean-ups between 28 May and 13 June, covering your nominated ‘Grot spots’, details here. All equipment will be provided by Burgess Hill Town Council and clean-ups will be led by Ward Councillors. Thanks to Anne Eves and everyone else who participated in the Leylands clean-up this morning, and I would particularly highlight the need for dog walkers to take their poop bags home if they don’t pass a bin.
Its good to see resident efforts to tidy up Freeks Lane, Liberal Democrat candidate Stuart Condie and myself took some time off from County Council election campaigning to clear up some plastic netting which was apparently left by contractors several years ago and become intertwined with vegetation, so we put some time into removing it this morning. Where possible we would prefer to hold the relevant authority to account but given the time that has passed this is not always possible.
Tonight ’s scrutiny meeting focused on Mid Sussex District Council’s sustainability strategy or rather the sustainable economic strategy, as it wishes to merge economic strategy with its sustainability strategy. It will be challenging to ensure that economic issues do not dominate – I still have my doubts about combining these targets given the different and sometimes conflicting aims – the details now need to be gone through by a working party.
I was pleased to see the Council take on my suggestion of getting environmental issues explicitly considered when the council makes a formal decision, in terms of a section on any relevant report to outline environmental considerations. However, the existing Council policy of carbon neutral by 2050 is somewhat unambitious, particularly as West Sussex County Council has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030, and my original attempt to get a similar commitment from the District Council in 2019 was not supported by the Conservative administration.
The Coronavirus has had an impact across all council services including recycling and I highlighted the Council’s current performance on the percentage of domestic waste going to recycling, this has fallen back slightly to 42% when comparing with the target in its strategy of 50% by 2020 and a national average of 45%. More time spent at home and charity shop closures have perhaps meant more rubbish being generated. However, the Council has languished at near this rate for several years so further work needs to be done to promote reuse and recycling.
That is not to deny that positives such as the small electrical waste collection on the same day as the refuse collection, and the possibility of an expansion to include textile recycling would be a good addition, as well as a separate food waste collection, which was timetabled for a pilot to begin last year, but delayed due to the pandemic. However, there may also be painful decisions to reduce the frequency of refuse collections if the council is to find savings to finance the current gap in its income, although these have not been muted yet.