Jacqui Kennedy, Director of Regulation and Enforcement, looks back on a week of activities across Birmingham designed to encourage people to play their part in keeping their communities clean and tidy.
This week has been National Spring Clean Week but for us it has also given us an opportunity to share the important message of our Cleaner Streets: Love Where We Live campaign, which aims to encourage everyone in our city to take pride in where they live.
On Monday, we joined pupils from Bordesley Green Girls School for a community clean-up in their area, showing that our young people are helping to lead the way when it comes to keeping their neighbourhoods clean and green.
Council staff carried out a day of action on Tuesday, taking to the streets to look for areas where litter poses particular problems, such as in the city centre, and issuing penalty notices to those caught in the act. This also highlighted problems such as smokers stubbing out their cigarettes on top of bins and then leaving their stubs on top in a pile, rather than putting them in the bin – while we’re pleased that they’re not dropping them on the floor, simply leaving them on top of bins makes that area look untidy and it only takes a gust of wind to send that pile of cigarette ends flying everywhere.
On Wednesday, we visited residents in Castle Vale to hear their views on how best to deal with issues such as litter, refuse collection, recycling and fly-tipping. Community input is extremely important to this campaign, so we are always keen to hear what people have to say about what are doing and what we can do better.
In Frankley on Thursday we saw true community power in action: Frankley Parish Council, working with Frankley Street Champions and local volunteers – we met the Thursday group. An area that was regularly flooded and overgrown was a blight on the beautiful landscape in Frankley. This was Princess Diana Way. A whole pathway was under silt and rubbish and local residents decided enough was enough and cleared it. They removed the fly tipping, they removed the litter, they dug out the mud (and used the mud for sandbags to build a dam and repaired the broken pipe work and cleared the drains) and reclaimed an amazingly beautiful area of natural beauty. They didn’t stop there though – they have also made this walkway accessible by putting in a stairway made of natural wood which blends in beautifully with the surroundings, as well as planting trees and bulbs. The flooding has stopped and the area is popular now with walkers, so people are also keeping fit. It is a truly inspirational and transformational project. Well done, Frankley!
For me, this week has demonstrated that we all have a part to play in keeping our communities nice and clean. Thankfully, we have seen plenty of people who take pride in where they live and make the effort, but for those who don’t, the message is clear: there is no excuse for littering – either use a bin or take your litter home, or face being hit in the pocket or even prosecution.