Strong response to my complaint regarding this problematic alley in Coatham
Milbank Terrace Alley in Coatham, Redcar has been problematic for many years. This is due to it being a mix of residential & commercial, adopted and unadopted, is wide open and is part of main town. It has been serviced in part by the neighbourhood team and in part unadopted with responsibility required from businesses. When laws are being broken, the Environmental and Enforcement teams have been contacted to investigate and speak to business owners and residents and if necessary they will issue fines. However this has not prevented the continual fly tipping and uncontrolled waste problems which sees community action from volunteers who don’t live around this alley.
On the 12th July 2020 I received a complaint asking if we cared? The picture that accompanied it made me so annoyed that I felt enough was enough. I have carried out many community actions in this alley amongst others and have been asking for a long term solution since 2016. It was clear from the post that some residents weren’t aware of previous efforts to support. The next day I wrote an open letter to the Cabinet Member, Cllr Barry Hunt (who agrees and experiences similar issues in his area). I also wrote to the council directors and officers and the press to complain about this perpetual issue:
“There can be no more excuses and reasons why the council are unable to take control of the waste in these alleys. I have written to the Redcar & Cleveland Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods Councillor Barry Hunt, to prioritise and resolve the issues we have in commercial alleys such as Milbank Terrace.
“This is a frustration for myself and indeed many councillors, year on year, of all political persuasions, for decades and it has to stop. If we are going to solve this we must do so together and cross party. Cllr Hunt shares my frustration and has responded to my plea to act and has committed to working together on this historic problem in order to find the solutions.
“Fly tipping and uncontrolled business waste has been a problem at Milbank Tce and throughout alleys in Redcar and across the borough for far too long and one that is never been under control, beyond the occasional clean up and fine.
“I have physically helped cleared this alley, amongst many others over the past five years, often accompanied by residents, business owners and council staff, but criticisms resurface as soon as they are trashed again, which is extremely frustrating when you told over and over “Sorry Cllr, this alley isn’t adopted by the council”. Good will isn’t the answer and we must all stop chasing our tails on this. Today we must draw a line under it and set up a review that must be followed through to conclusion in order to tackle the problem head on.“
Furthermore, I sent recommendations to the Cabinet member and Head of the Department, prior to a virtual meeting with the relevant officers. These requested to:
– form a task and finish group of councillors and officers who meet regularly and bring short term and long term solutions;
– develop a league table programme to identify and hotspot the worst affected alleys and focus enforcement on these areas, with a continued review;
– legally adopt ALL alleys that are not under anyone’s control and look at adopting or enforcing tighter CPN controls on alleys that are joint owned but are not maintained privately;
– be tougher with businesses and private waste companies to ensure areas are clear of waste and that the bins usedare the commercial variety and lockable;
– develop enforceable policies to address commercial and residential waste dumped on private land that opens onto public spaces;
– set tougher fines with zero tolerance;
– provide new bins to residents who share these alleys with commercial and who have had theirs stolen and are therefore sharing bins;
– look at vehicular control such as gates or bollards to prevent fly tipping from other areas;
– provide temporary or permanent CCTV and identify and fine those continually abusing our environment.
– employ more enforcement staff on flexible hours so that enforcement policies can be observed on evenings and weekends in hotpot alleys.”
Following our meeting (16/07/2020) immediate measures were set up to regularly clean the alley and an action plan would be developed to check those using the alley have the correct bins.
Today, (20/08/2020), I received that action plan which includes a review of the legislation which will need to go to our Governance Committee. The action plan is multi-departmental and ensures bins have been checked and commercial bins are appropriate. The alley will continue to receive regular service and residents and businesses are encouraged to work with the council and have been made of aware of the costs, their responsibility and the enforceable actions. There is also the possibility that five new enforcement officers will be added to enforce fly tipping action. I sincerely hope so.
This is a very welcome first big step in the right direction. I have called a meeting to go through it all but I am satisfied this will have immediate impact. There is more to do here. Communication and review is key to any successful operation. The plan being created will hopefully mean the images of fly tipping in this alley will be a thing of the past. The good news for the borough is that the model being developed can be rolled out in any of the alleys experiencing similar issues.