COUNCIL leaders have apologised after angry residents blasted the state of Chester’s streets.
Scores of householders have claimed many areas are dirty and are covered in litter.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) and contractors May Gurney have apologised for the mounting mess and have admitted there have been problems with waste collections.
Rubbish has been spilling from bin lorries and blowing across the streets, resulting in a big increase in complaints from residents about litter-ridden roads.
CWaC said the mess had been caused by “incorrect working practices” and council workers and contractors were paying particular attention to ensuring high speed roads were kept clean and tidy.
A CWaC spokesman said: “Vehicle-borne litter has historically been an issue both at a local and national level. We are aware that due to incorrect working practices the ‘Recycle First’ service has on occasion added to this issue.
“We are working with our collection partner May Gurney to ensure this issue is rectified.
“The council’s Streetscene service has been working alongside its highways contractor Ringway to ensure the borough’s high speed roads are back to a high standard a quickly as possible.
“CWaC will also continue to work with motorists, educating them on the impact disposing of litter from moving vehicles can have on on the local environment.”
Zak Shell, contract manger for May Gurney, said: “It has come to our attention there have been occasions where our collection activities have resulted in spillage of recyclable material.
“Where this has occurred we offer our sincere apologies and can assure the residents of West Cheshire we are proactively working with, and providing additional training to, all crews to ensure our future operations leave the collection areas in an excellent clean and tidy condition.”
Opposition councillors and environmental campaigners are now demanding a major roadside clean-up to tackle the problem.
Labour group leader Justin Madders said: “Complaints about the state of our streets have rocketed.”
Cllr Madders said he wanted to see an extra £100,000 pumped into the clean-up but ruling Conservative councillors rejected those plans.
He said: “Council staff are doing their best on stretched budgets; the Conservatives have to accept responsibility for this.
“Labour proposed amendments to the budget which would have meant more street cleaning. I am sorry to say the Tories rejected it.”
May Gurney was awarded the £125 million contract by CWaC in April to deliver waste and recycling services for the next 14 years.
But the new contract has been beset by problems, ranging from missed collections to rubbish being left on streets and binmen striking in rows over pay.
Labour group environment spokesman David Robinson said: “The new waste contract may superficially be saving money but only at the expense of clean streets which sadly are now suffering from fly blown litter.
“Keeping the streets clean is a basic requirement for any council; this council is failing in its duty.”
CWaC has also come under fire from the Cheshire West and Chester Green Party over the condition of roads in rural areas.
Campaigns co-ordinator Tom Astle said: “Cheshire’s countryside has been blighted and its wildlife threatened by a huge increase in roadside litter.
“May Gurney has allowed waste to blow out of their lorries after it has been conscientiously sorted by householders doing their best to understand and comply with the complexities of the new system.”
Mr Astle said many residents living in villages were angry about the situation and the potential damage to birds and wildlife and he has written to CWaC chief executive Steve Robinson urging him to insist May Gurney sort out the mess and address the issue of rubbish spilling from lorries.
He said: “They have effectively admitted littering. Although it may initially have been unintentional, to allow the situation to continue makes the offence deliberate.
“Not only should they modify their vehicles immediately to stop this happening, but they should also undertake and pay for an operation to reverse the damage that has been caused.”
Chester Young Greens has launched its own clean-up campaign in response to the problem.
Spokesman Ben Tait said “We often go out and pick up litter around the footpaths in our village, but the current problem is much worse than anything we have seen before.
“Our plan is to bombard the council with photographs of the piles of rubbish and put them under pressure to clean up their mess.”