“Well we told you so,” was the response of Oldham Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Howard Sykes MBE to news that Oldham’s Labour Cabinet has chosen to invest more in street cleaning and tackling fly-tipping. “Oldham people want to see cleaner streets and for the Liberal Democrats this has always been a budget priority.”
Councillor Sykes said: “I welcome the new Council Leader’s commitment to establish a ‘street cleaning force’ to tackle fly-tipping and rubbish in this borough’s dirty streets, but the Liberal Democrats made similar proposals in each of our ‘alternate budget’ amendments over the last five financial years, including reinstating three enforcement officer posts. Labour has always turned us down saying they were rubbish. Just think how much cleaner our borough would be with five years of our suggested investment.”
The Cabinet recently (26 July) approved a proposal to spend a further £1.27 million to employ more street cleaners, two new teams to respond to fly-tipping incidents, and ‘environmental marshals’ to prosecute offenders, as well as investing in two new vehicles.
Councillor Sykes added: “As the opposition, the Liberal Democrats do not control the purse-strings and so there has been little money available to us to propose reallocating in our ‘alternate budget’ amendment each year. Nonetheless we have always prioritised extra investment in cleaner streets and tackling fly-tipping, and in for the current financial year this amounted to almost £300,000.
“This decision shows that, as the party in power, Labour has always been able to find the extra resources to clean up our streets if it had the will to do so. If this decision makes sense now why did common-sense not prevail when we made similar suggestions in the past?”
Councillor Sykes concluded: “The one deficiency of this plan is that we shall not see the reinstatement of the free collection service from Bulky Bobs, as we proposed. I remain convinced that this would help stop the dumping of large items, like furniture.”