Issue of litter and dirt is raised at this week's council meeting
A call for improved street cleaning in Merton has been launched by Conservative councillors, who raised the issue at this week's full council meeting.
A group of Tory councillors submitted a motion to Wednesday's meeting pointing out that in the latest annual residents' survey, more than a third of residents mentioned litter and dirt in the streets as their primary concern.
It said the number of street cleaners employed in the borough had reduced from 112 in 2010 to 103 today, with a further seven street cleaning staff to be cut in 2016-17 as part of the 2015-19 Business Plan.
It added that dog waste bins are also set to be removed across the borough in 2016-17 and according to a recent Freedom of Information request, 21,700 people felt it necessary to contact the Council about street scene and waste issues last year alone.
The motion called on the council to act on litter and waste in a number of areas, including:
Reverse its previous decision and reintroduce street sweeping immediately after refuse collections;
Reverse its previous decision and reintroduce a full Sunday street cleaning service in Merton’s town centres.
The motion was rejected by the ruling Labour group, who put forward their own amendment, which pointed out that more than 4,000 fixed penalty notices were issued in 2014/15 to people dropping litter in the streets.
The amendment also stated: "We rely on residents to be our eyes and eyes to identify fly tips or where there is a build up of litter, and the Council's stated policy to 'sweep every road once a week, twice if required' whilst town centres and main shopping parades should be swept daily Monday to Saturday continues to be our policy."
It also said the level of missed collections stood at 0.5% and that the preliminary results of a wheelie bin trial in parts of Lavender Ward showed a 20% improvement in street cleanliness.
The amendment, which was voted through, called on Cabinet to undertake a number of measures including looking in detail at the pros and cons of a wheelie bin service and to continue to strenuously enforce fixed penalty notices.
But Councillor David Dean said afterwards: "We need to get more cleaners back on the streets. Residents are complaining this is their biggest issue after high council tax. We need to bring back the weekly sweep."