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Cheshire East Council defends move to transfer Streetscape service
12:50pm Tuesday 16th October 2012 in News
CHESHIRE East Council (CEC) has defended its decision to include its Streetscape and parking maintenance within the highways service contract.
The council approved the recommendation to transfer these activities from January 1, 2013, with the aim of developing a detailed activity programme that will engage with elected members, existing employees and their Trade Union representatives.
Labour councillors expressed their concerns that the decision could be effectively ‘privatising’ an efficient and well regarded service.
Steve Hogben, Labour Clr for Crewe South, said: “There seems to be little or no evidence or consultation to support this decision.
“The decision came from so far out of the blue that even many Conservative backbenchers were shocked.
“Parks, playgrounds and the cleaning of our streets are highly valued council services. I hope that many councillors will speak up to defend these services from ideological cuts.”
Clr Rod Menlove, CEC cabinet member for the environment, defended the decision.
He said: “Streetscape services is one of the most visible public services that Cheshire East delivers.
“However, while the quality of these services is clear in urban areas, it is difficult to give the same quality of coverage in our extensive rural areas – for example, in relation to fly-tipping and removing dead animals from the roadside.
“Our highways partner Ringway Jacobs already has a well-defined presence across the whole of the borough and including streetscape service in their contract offers one logical and efficient solution.
“Because they are already out there maintaining our 1,686 miles of rural and urban roads, they are well placed to respond to incidents in rural areas.
“This means that services can be maintained and improved.
“The services that streetscape delivers are extremely important and range from litter-picking and grass cutting to maintaining parks and flower beds and dog-mess collection.
“These vital services in the town centres are ones that must be maintained but we have to find a way to ensure that they are cost effective and equitable for all our residents.
“We have some very successful and productive partnerships with towns across Cheshire East.
“There is now an opportunity to look at this and other models in other areas that will ensure the long-term high quality of the services and, at the same time, save money.”