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Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management (W12)

Cuts

Portfolio: Leisure and Local Environment Portfolio

Futures Fund

This cut may not get implemented in full because there are proposals to include the service within the futures fund. Please visit the futures fund proposal to find out more. 

There is a proposal to continue maintaining South Park.

There is a one off proposal to develop wild flower meadows.

Description

This proposal covers a number of areas:  grounds maintenance and horticulture, including grass cutting, shrub/hedge maintenance, leaf clearance, floral displays, general grounds maintenance work, repairs and maintenance, parks and open spaces, rural road grass cutting, weed control, Council house work including garden maintenance and sheltered accommodation. 

The Council has health and safety responsibilities and also owes a duty of care to ensure that people do not come to harm when visiting  parks and open spaces and needs to maintain sight lines for safe passage on the highway and playing pitches, as this service will continue to be offered .  Apart from those duties the condition that the land is kept in  has been more a matter of civic pride but this is now under considerable financial pressure. The proposals to reduce the service below are a judgement of what is believed to be the minimum level of resource to meet the Council’s duty

  • No grass cutting or horticultural work in any open space including all parks and nature reserves
  • No grass cutting on roadside verges
  • No support to any voluntary groups including Friends, Street Champions and Darlington Cares
  • No floral displays
  • Overall, this will mean that all open spaces and parks will become extremely unsightly, become litter traps and attract anti-social behaviour, graffiti and vandalism due to their run-down appearance.  In contrast to this, Council housing estates will continue to be maintained to existing standards as they are funded through the HRA. 

Grass Cutting

This includes grass cutting of all roadside verges, open spaces on housing estates, general amenity grass such as village green at Cockerton or grass within all parks across the Borough that are not sports pitches, e.g. Green Park, Stanhope Green, Denes, North Lodge Park, North Park, South Park, Alderman Crooks Park and all other large open spaces.  These areas would only be cut once per year, grass would then be baled and removed. 
Impact:   Due the grass being overgrown, it would be difficult for young people to play in these areas as well as residents being able to walk and enjoy the parks and open spaces across the Borough.  Wherever there is grass, it would look untidy throughout the growing season, retain more litter and be difficult for residents to remove dog dirt.  Over time the grass will eventually become full of weed, looking even worse, and start to encroach on footpaths and the highway. 
Existing frequency:  Grass is generally cut on a 10-15 working day cycle. 
Frequency following cuts:  Grass will be cut once per annum, baled and removed from site.  From a health and safety point of view, sightlines at junctions and roundabouts will be cut more frequently as required to ensure clear visibility for motorists. 

Council Housing Land

All work carried out for Council Housing would continue as this is paid for through the HRA.  The existing standards and frequencies would be maintained unless the specification is altered by Housing. 

South Park

South Park currently has 3.2 gardeners working within the park, maintaining all the formal areas of the park to the current high standard. 
Impact:  With no resources to maintain South Park it would rapidly become run down with increased vandalism to facilities in the park, which would ultimately have to be removed for safety reasons as well as potential damage and vandalism to buildings and other structures in the park.  There would be a significant potential of negative publicity and potential claw back from the HLF as they were a major funder of the refurbished South Park.  This would impact on the Council’s ability to attract further funding from HLF. 
Existing frequency:  The formal areas are maintained to a high standard by the existing gardening team within the park. 
Frequency following cuts:  No work would be carried out to the formal areas of the park. 

Shrub Bed Pruning (included in Core Offer)

Shrub beds that are next to footpaths and the highways would continue to be maintained  as they currently are with one full prune in the winter and other general maintenance throughout the year.  This is to ensure that they do not become a health and safety hazard by encroaching on the highway or footpaths. 

Hedge Cutting (included in Core Offer)

Maintenance of Council owned hedges would continue to the same standard as currently with one cut per annum.  This is to ensure that they do not become a health and safety hazard by encroaching on the highway or footpaths. 

Weed Spraying (included in Core Offer)

Weed spraying on hard surfaces would continue at the current service level with two operatives carrying out through the growing season.  This work is essential for health and safety reasons ensuring there isn’t excessive growth of weeds and vegetation on pavements, which would cause trip hazards. 

Floral Displays

All floral displays other than those in Sheltered Housing Accommodation and the Cemeteries would be stopped. 

Sports Pitches (included in Core Offer)

Sports pitches would continue to be maintained across the Borough whether in a park or general open space, however grass that is not part of the sports pitch would not be cut as above. 

It will be possible to consider extending wildflower meadow approach to a lot of the larger open spaces, however there is an upfront cost to this work of approximately £1500 per acre.  It is not possible to use this approach on a lot of the smaller spaces as large equipment is required to cut and bale at the end of the season. 

Parks and Countryside Management

This service currently looks after 7 local nature reserves (Maidendale, Drinkfield Marsh, Brinkburn, Rockwell, Geneva Wood,, Brankin Moor, The Whinnies) as well as other local wildlife sites, e.g. Red Hall, Cocker Beck, Baydale, Faverdale, West Park, Lakeside and Snipe Pond, and the overall management of parks and play areas.  This service is also responsible for organising and managing all the volunteer work of Environmental Services including Friends Groups, Street Champions, Countryside volunteers, Darlington Cares and other organisations/groups that wish to become involved in assisting in maintaining these areas.  Alongside this the Parks and Countryside Management provides advice and guidance to Planning colleagues with regard to green infrastructure. 

Impact

As all staff would be redundant the impact of this proposal will mean there is no overall coordination of management of parks and countryside/nature reserves and there will be no funding to maintain them.  The nature reserve sites, unless they can be handed over to the community, would ultimately need to be closed and fenced off as they would become a health and safety hazard over time, other parks and large open spaces will not be maintained, e.g. Denes, Green Park, Stanhope Green and many more as they don’t have sports pitches.  There would be no support for the Friends, Street Champions or other volunteer groups resulting in either people just getting on and doing it themselves in an ad hoc uncoordinated fashion, which could have serious implications for health and safety and the overall management of the sites. 

Cumulative Impact

As significant resources will be reduced from this range of services, there will be significant impact on the quality of the local environment with the closure of a range of facilities in South Park and the local nature reserves.  There will be significantly increased risk of accidents within parks and open spaces as a result of reduced maintenance and resources to take corrective action. 

There are currently 25 staff including 3 Team Leaders (one of which also covers Street Cleaning) involved in Grounds Maintenance and Horticultural Services, this would reduce to 17, a 32% reduction.  At South Park, there are currently 3.2 FTE posts, which if the service was withdrawn, would reduce to zero.  For the Parks and Countryside service, there are currently 4.6 FTE posts, which again would reduce to zero, if the proposal is implemented. 

In addition to this, the overall cumulative impact on the environment of this proposal alongside Street Cleaning and Environmental Crime will make the town a much less attractive place to live and invest.  

Link

W12 Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks & Countryside Management

Related FAQs

What will be the impact on voluntary organisations such as Citizen’s Advice, Age UK, GADD? What happens if they close?

What will be the impact on voluntary organisations such as Citizen’s Advice, Age UK, GADD? What happens if they close?

We fully support the work of our voluntary sector partners and hope to continue to work with them in the future. However, the financial situation is such that the Council is not able to continue funding these organisations at current levels. The likely impact of the budget proposals on these organisations is currently being identified, following discussions with the organisations most affected. We hope that they are able to continue their work by looking at where they can make further cost and efficiency savings, but we appreciate that in some cases this may not be possible and it will therefore mean a reduction in the support they can offer to the residents of Darlington.  It could lead to the closure of organisations if they are unable to make the necessary changes for them to be sustainable, which will be very regrettable. We want to avoid this happening and we will support organisations making grant applications where we can. We will also be undertaking work to understand the impact of any reductions in service on individuals accessing them. 

Won’t reduced street cleaning and grass cutting make the area look more unsightly and cause health issues?

Won’t reduced street cleaning and grass cutting make the area look more unsightly and cause health issues?

The Council has a legal duty to ensure as far as reasonably practical that footpaths and the highway are free from litter and that people do not come to harm when visiting parks and open spaces. Much of the work we have done in the past was well above what was legally required, but due to the increasing pressure on our budgets we are being forced to cut back on these services to minimum levels. It is sadly inevitable that there will be an impact and we would urge local residents, and visitors to the borough, to play their part in keeping the area tidy - use litter bins provided or take your litter home to dispose of it. Larger items can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre or you can arrange for collection via the council. We would also welcome any ideas from voluntary and community groups about how they can get involved. Working together we can help keep Darlington a tidy and pleasant place in which to live, work and visit. 

How will you deal with increased litter/fly tipping?

How will you deal with increased litter/fly tipping?

The Council has a legal duty to ensure as far as reasonably practical that footpaths and the highway are free from litter and we will do our best to clear areas when issues are reported to us, although it may take longer. However, we would again urge local residents and visitors to the borough to play their part in keeping the area tidy. If there is an increase, we will remove the tipped waste, however this may take longer than previously has been the case. If there is a large increase we will look at further options to address the issue.

Your Say

19 comment(s)

This table lists comments from the public about this proposal

Comment

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

You don't maintain the Denes anyways so a cut to service wouldn't be noticed.

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

Hidden among the huge cuts to services ( libraries, markets) is a very valuable service -Groundwork. This cannot receive a huge amount of funding I am guessing ,in the budget cuts of 12.5 million pounds,but it provides an invaluable service for people recovering from mental health issues. I am sure you are aware that funding for mental health support has suffered greatly in recent years in Darlington and I feel this is a savage cut which should be reconsidered. Clients have been working on the allotment in the winter in all weathers with the knowledge that come the spring they will be able to enjoy seeing the fruits of their labours ,in itself a boost to their ( at times) fragile mental health. Please take this into account in your final deliberations.

FF 52c (Funding to Maintain Open Space and Parks to Allow Standards to be Introduced at 50% of Current Levels)
Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

Grass cutting in parks should continu as it is which is sometimes a 3 week cut - to allow young people & adults to exercise on the grass, picnic, socialise & be in the fresh air.
Long grass has proved to attract, dangerous litter & dog fouling and is not then hygenic for people to be in contact with when using the grassed areas. It would disallow many of todays uses. Uses do not increase with long grass they get less. & stop people going toparks.

Core EffR5 (Members Allowances)
Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)
Core EffR19 (Senior Management costs)

If you are seriously suggesting you are not going to cut the grass in parks, they will be entirely unusable by anyone at all. Why not just close them all and sell the land off - it's not as if anyone will be able to use them anyway.

You could use the capital receipts to ensure that no cuts are needed in more important areas such as members allowances, chief officers pay etc

Core EffR5 (Members Allowances)
Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)
Core EffR19 (Senior Management costs)

I am so pleased I'm moving away from darlington next month. By the time you've finished the place will be a bigger tip than Hartlepool (and it has a few of them).

The people I feel for are the staff you intend to make redundant and the poor people who will have to live in Darlo, a filty, overgrown place with no services whatsoever.

How many other councils have had funding cuts, yet not resorted to this state of affairs? To come to this suggests that the councillors and senior managers have gone very badly wrong somewhere.

As your solution is to just cut everything, here's a few more ideas you could use.

Get rid of all refuse/recycling collections. People will be able to throw their rubbish in the street and you won't be doing anything about it (fining them or cleaning it up) so that should save a good bit of money.

Close all the parks and rent them out as grazing land. If you're not going to cut the grass, no-one will be able to use them anyway and at least this way you can make some money back and the goats or sheep would save on even the one token cut per year.

Maximise income by charging charities and community groups for absolutely everything you can - rates, refuse etc. This way you might even manage to get rid of a few more of them, further reducing services in the borough.

Why bother putting the library in the dolphin centre. Just close them both. If people want books, they can by them off amazon, if they can't afford it then they'll be able to sympathise with darlo council.

When you've made all these cuts, you can reduce the number of councillors as there'll be nothing left for them to run.

When you've made all the staff redundant you can sell the town hall and make a bit there. Surely somewhere you'll have a spare council house that you could convert for Ada and Bill (you could even call it the town hall to make it sound a bit grander), because you'll have no other staff left.

Don't forget to raise the council tax as much as possible each year too. You obviously need the money more that the taxpayers who will soon be getting absolutely nothing in return, not even the young, old or vulnerable when you've finished.

BEST IDEA YET...abolish Darlo council and go back to being part of Durham. They've made major cuts, but they've still got libraries and cut the grass, take care of the vulnerable and less fortunate

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

It is unbelievable that the Council is considering cutting what might be considered to be some of the most essential services in Darlington. How on earth can you expect people to move in and invest in the town if 'all open spaces and parks will become extremely unsightly.. litter traps, anti-social behaviour......vandalism.' '....will make the town a much less attractive place to live and invest.' (quotes from your own W12 document)? To make essential, lowest-paid staff redundant (whilst retaining highly-paid officials at the Town Hall) and to stop all funding to volunteer groups is sending a clear message that the Council is not interested in the town at all. Do any of you actually live here? You are punishing residents for political ends (e.g. blaming the Government). The resulting deprivation of anything uplifting (e.g. plant displays, well-maintained parks, etc.) can only have a detrimental effect on residents, resulting in far greater social care expenditure in the long-run, particularly mental health. To reduce the town to a complete wasteland is negligence. As a Council, it is your job to keep the town fit for purpose. Please, please reconsider this proposal.

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

Ceasing all maintainence of grassy areas around the town will make the town look messy and ugly. Personally, I don't think that there would be local volunteers to keep these areas kept tidy and neat.

Instead of grasses being cut every 10-15 days during the growing season this could be once a month, rather than a year. It would keep the growth down to a reasonable level without it looking too overgrown and would still be ideal for young children to play.

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

Hello, a grim situation, I'm sorry. I would like to think that if we thought long and hard about this we could come up with a plan where Groundwork could manage the towns parks through volunteering, corporate sponsors, healthy inititiatives, income generation etc etc building on the work in South Park. Perhaps if South Park and some of the income for managing that park, along with the ability to run the cafe and other activities off there, could help spearhead a wider 'Parks for People' offer. Ultimately by working with other local authorities on a wider scale we would possibly propose a Parks Trust similar to a wildlife Trust model with a membership base, managing parks for communities rather than parks for wildlife. But any Trust ( see Milton Keynes as an excellent example) needs some kind of endowment to provide an element of sustainability. This would allow the savings to be made, perhaps to a lesser extent, certainly in the first instance, but maintain a network of beautiful and well used community resources across the borough.

All needs thinking through but worth a conversation ?

On a personal note, as a resident of Darlington I would hate to see the fabric of our lovely town degrade and impact on the quality of life and ultimately the economy of the borough. Kate.

Core LLE12 (Indoor and Outdoor Markets)
Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)
Cut Mc10 (Christmas lights)

having read the proposals in the recent edition,i would like to make one or two observations.
1.Under the heading Town Centre you only mention Christmas lights,the water feature and floral displays there is no mention of the covered market prosed closure which for me is the most important.
2.the only mention is in the question and answer.The question should have been you,re closing the indoor market in a market town,obviously you wont close the outdoor market as it does not cost you anything.In short in my opinion the question and answer was too vague you sholud have been more precise.
It does seem to me that the council are only interested in new builds and not preserving our historic heritage.
Any comments would be appreciated.

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

I draw your attention to the ENTIRE report, and give an extract here from Heritage Lottery Report 2015 . Please be aware of what could happen to Darlington should you take your proposed route mentioned in this budget.
'Local authority commitment'
'Local authorities' ongoing and renewed commitment to fund, staff and manage parks is
essential. Parks should not simply be considered a costly liability, for it has been shown
that there is a strong link between people’s satisfaction with their local parks and their
satisfaction with their neighbourhood. In places where local authorities spend more on
parks and open space, this satisfaction is higher.'

This further quote underlines the above - please heed the warning. Street Scene need to incorporate some parks knowledge if the Management team from Parks and Countryside are to be dismantled. The work still needs to continue, even if in a less costly manner. Please let us have reassurances to that effect. The budget makes it sound as though the Council is washing it's hands of many aspects.

State of UK Public Parks 2014 - Research Report
page 80 of 84
'This research demonstrates, as have several previous studies, that parks are one of the
most heavily used public services. They are particularly valued by families and young
children and can represent an important local priority for voters. It is also clear through both
historic precedent and recent research that careful and considered investment in public
parks can deliver many economic, social and public health returns. With the vast majority of
parks remaining in public ownership the ongoing need for local authorities to properly fund,
staff and manage their parks is essential.'

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

If you are cutting back to the extent outlined I would suggest that you need to keep [...] employed if nobody else.

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

Hi Im disgusted with these proposals and think its political suicide for Darlington Labour Controlled Council. At what point will i and many others get so fed up with cleaning our streets and just give up. When fly tips wont be dealt with and the rubbish just piles up and gets deeper and deeper. Litter isn't obvious until it gets really bad then people notice it. Fly tips are always obvious. In an ideal world we would all blame the fly tippers. But we live in the real world and we blame the council for not cleaning it up. As a tax payer and a council tax payer i don't only expect your back up. I demand it! After all if we did live in an ideal world no one would drop litter and if they did you would clean it up. But this isn't an ideal world and i accept that and thats why i take time out of my life to clean the area i live in. And because i still pride in the area i live. Being a street champian for me is partnership between me and the council and that is what i pay my tax for. Im totally stunned to hear you want to just abandon us street champions and believe me i will fight with all my strength to stop this. I am now going hound jenny Chapman and make her life hell if i have to. And i will also vote this council out if i have to. Even though i am a member of the labour party. Im appalled but not saddened. Because I'm bloody angry and there is no nice way of saying that.

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

I am responding to your invitations to comment on budget proposals for street cleaning which I understand are as follows: a) No support or coordination from the Council for Street Champions; b) No support or coordination of any volunteer work for street cleaning, parks or open spaces; c) A 40% reduction in street cleaning staff; d) No environmental crime enforcement dealing with fly tipping, dog fouling, littering, refuse, graffiti and other associated environmental crime. Whilst fully appreciating the pressures the Council face with regard to budgetary pressures, the effect of reducing the number of street cleaning staff will be catastrophic and I wonder if other options have been seriously considered. Has for example consideration been given to devolving the entire street cleaning budget to either a newly formed social enterprise organization, or thought given to tendering these services out to a commercial or not-for-profit company? Clearly radical solutions are needed and simply slashing services is not the answer. If Darlington Council wish to attract new investment into the borough which will create jobs and prosperity, then it makes no sense to make cuts which could turn the borough into a very large flytip. Street cleaning is not a major area of spending compared to say social services or education, and important as these other areas are, most surveys of the public show that keeping the streets clean and tidy is top of most peoples priorities. A one-off step/process to establish a self sustaining and independent co-ordination of street champions could mitigate the effects of (a) and (b) above, and there could be a role for volunteers to deliver some of (d). However, the proposed a cut in the number of street cleaners is shocking. These staff are not particularly well paid, but the work they do is vital. In terms of value for money, they come out top for all local government services in my opinion. Darlington Council are frequently criticized on social media in quite vitriolic ways. This is not always justified and many ill informed suggestions are often made. However, a radical re-structure is called for and this means all options should be considered, including the possibility of a total outsourcing of the cleansing department services. Political dogma from the left or the right has no part to play in this debate. What we need are efficient services delivered in a truly cost effective way.

FF 52b (A Remodelled Dolphin Centre including the Central Library)
FF 53u (Wildflower Meadows Invest to Save Fund)
Core LLE12 (Indoor and Outdoor Markets)
Cut W01 (Civic Theatre Break Even)
Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

Sir, with regard to your March edition of 'one Darlington' and the proposed council cutbacks, and feedback you requested. 1. Sell the Covered Market into private ownership a.s.a.p. ( It should have been sold years ago ), create revenue. 2. Close all Town Libraries. I am an avid reader and have two books 'on the go ' at anyone time yet I have not visited any library in town for over 25 years. I obtain my literature from Charity shops and the British Lions bookshop near Guru. I have an old desk top computer that has been upgraded three times over the years so I do not need to use the town internet facilities. 3. All Parks to be put to Lawns, Meadow, & Cut Grass. All Roundabouts to use spring flowering bulbs and summer flowering small shrubs, NOT bedding plants. 4. The Civic Theatre alterations must include enlarging the stage or performing area so that larger national productions can be shown, otherwise the £4 million spent will be completely wasted. If we still have the same small size stage area, what is the point in spending lots of money on new seats !! 5. Better use to be made of the Market Square which is an asset that just sits there year in, year out without creating revenue for the town. 6. Why are we spending over £20 million on rebuilding Red Hall Council estate ? The council has already spent millions over the years renewing houses on Firth Moor & Skerne Park estates. Is it the intention of Darlington council to just carry on demolishing council houses and replacing with new houses because the estates have become so rundown through ill usage by the tenants, who the Council have allowed to live there ? What is the planned frequency of council house replacements ( new for old ! ). Is it 30 years, or 40 or 50 before they are knocked down again ? My mother lives in a terrace house that she owns in Darlington that was built around 1900. She has had double glazing fitted and a new roof all at her own expense. However if her house was council owned it would, presumably, have been demolished in the last century and a new one built ? WHY IS THE BURDEN ALWAYS PUT ON PRIVATE HOME OWNERS ? Comment . 7. Bring the Darlington 1883 football team back to Darlington a.s.a.p. and return more revenue ( and Pride ? ) to the town. 8. The area of fields bordered by Park lane/ Grange Road/ and the River Skerne to be sold to private enterprise for development as a Sports Velodrome / Running Track to bring a sports facility into the town and create more income revenue. As for me, I am 61 years old, Darlington resident all my life, lived on Firth Moor Estate five years, Skerne Park Estate eight years, Albert Hill eight years ( with unlit toilet and coal house at the bottom of the yard and no central heating ). So just do what you have to do to balance the books and ignore all the 'weeping and wailing' that will inevitably follow.

FF 52c (Funding to Maintain Open Space and Parks to Allow Standards to be Introduced at 50% of Current Levels)
FF 52d (Maintain South Park to Existing Standards)
Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

The Councillors need to support the UK's parks and playing fields. People across all communities value their parks and playing fields being maintained and well managed or better still with improvements 91% of people in UK believe public parks and open spaces improve quality of life There are 2.6 billion estimated visits to the UK's parks each year 94% of people felt having green space close to where they live was important 83% of families with children aged 5 & under visit their local park at least once a month make sure they are still maintained well and are there for future generations to enjoy. Do not let them overgrow into rough pastures filling with litter and dog faeces or fly tipping.

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

The trees in Darlington roads etc are lovely BUT it is time some of them were taken out - they cause an enormous amount of work by needing more street and drain cleaning and interfering with the drainage systems, pavement adjustments and replacements, lopping and in lots of cases a nuisance to householders, they block daylight and some have a propensity towards leaning towards property. Also the roots cause damage to properties. The amount of savings that could be made by reducing the amount of trees in Darlington could be used elsewhere and remember this would be a saving each year and every year. It would be of interest to me to actually know how much work a road of trees cost in totality given all the reasons for not having them above. Yes they are nice to see but so were the flowers in Darlington. Darlington does not need a quick fix it needs long term measures putting into place and that would be a good place to start. Of course some people would say keep the trees because they do not have to clean up around and about them and try to dodge walking under them. Please give this long term solution some thought and if anyone wants to discuss this with me then I will be happy to do so. This is for Darlington

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

A letter from Durham Bird Club about the budget reduction and management of local nature reserves.

Documents


Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)

I am very much aware that the Council needs to cut back on services and have the following suggestion to make. I like the trees on the grass verges of the roads in Darlington, however they must be quite a considerable cost to maintain in various ways e.g. 1 cutting and pruning on a yearly basis or more often 2. more street cleaning in siome areas due to falling leaves 3., drain cleaning due to falling leaves 4. drain interference through roots and cracked drains through roots 5. tree roots lifting pavements and cracking tarcmacadam and making uneven paths - a huge problem 6. trees leaning towards some houses and lilght blocking 7. causing additional problems to car parking in many roads 8. overhanging branches and the need to sometimes having to try and avoid them for safety sake 9. tree roots sprouting in people’s front gardens 10. general untidiness due to house residents also not cleaning up their property or outside their property but if the trees weren’t there they would not have to do it YES I like the trees but at what cost and it is a cost that is ongoing and will not get any cheaper - stop it before it gets too bad. I would rather keep the public buildings in Darlington than have the continuous work of trying to keep the outside of my property tidy. A reply with comments would be appreciated and I would be willing to discuss the matter if anyone wishes to do so.

Cut W12 (Grounds Maintenance, Horticulture, Parks and Countryside Management)
Cut W13 (Street Cleaning and Environmental Crime)

One of the most fundamental rights and expectations from a civilised country is to live in a clean and pleasant environment. The cutbacks identified in the Borough’s MTFP proposes a dramatic reduction on our Street Scene Team plus the loss of 4 members from our Environmental Crime Enforcement which will result in less town centre litter picking, dog fouling, fly tipping recycling, road cleaning, grass cutting and a total loss of Environmental Enforcement. The result of these cutbacks “will have a significant impact on the overall appearance of the Borough” as stated in the Core Offer Budget. The reductions will increase the number of complaints, lower the quality of life for Darlington residents, influence tourism and potentially have a negative effect on our ability to attract inward investment to improve our local economy. This must not happen. In the first place DBC must push ahead to bring in a professional organisation to impose Fixed Penalty Notices on people seen dropping litter. Street Scene would manage the organisation and control its operation. .This simple operation would be a positive move to reduce littering and would actually bring cash into the Town Hall. Secondly maintain our Environmental Team. Between them they have worked closely with residents from across the Borough gaining the trust of many to such an extent that we have over 400 Street Champions, 200+ volunteers who tend our green spaces and this year over 700 people took part in the Big Spring Clean - 1300 volunteers keeping our streets clean, reporting environment incidents and generally working for the good of our community. Volunteers who take pride in their community, volunteers who have answered the call to help keep our Town clean and volunteers who will be let down should the Officers be made redundant and as Darlington will lose this incredible free work force the streets will be the worse for it. In approximate financial terms the town would also loose the following if the volunteers were paid:- Assume that every litter Volunteer worked 2 hours – many worked longer 1400 Assume that remaining volunteers work only one house per week 600 x 1 x 50 30,000 Total man hours 31400 Cost per voluntary man hour £7.00 £219,800 Given the importance of keeping our Town clean should there be a choice of supporting Street Crossing Patrols or Street Scene I would recommend the latter. I appreciate that this will be controversial but most young people are either transported to school by bus or car or escorted by a parent. Those that do walk tend to be the older young people. If there are any specific dangerous crossing places. I am sur that with the right attitude, parents could organise themselves to provide a Crossing patrol.