Get the basics right, pleads Brighton and Hove councillor

The council is failing to get the basics right to such an extent that a senior councillor has called for a dedicated working group to sort out the mess.

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson criticised shortcomings in rubbish and recycling collection – pre-dating the bin lorry drivers strike – as well as problems with parking permits and keeping the streets clean.

He noted “the high volume of complaints that councillors receive from residents rightly angry about basic council services failing to deliver”.

He also had overgrown weeds in his sights, as well as “graffiti and litter on our streets, beaches and in our parks … and the general maintenance, upkeep and cleanliness of our city”.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s own performance indicators “reflect the complaints from residents”, Councillor Wilkinson said.

And they “show the council is performing below-target on the delivery of some essential services and that some of these failures are systemic and long-running”.

He said that he recognised “the challenges the pandemic has presented and the hard work council staff have undertaken over the past year”.

But he added: “Lockdown is over and we need to urgently put our council services back to work and start meeting the expectations of our residents.”

At a meeting of the full council at Brighton Town Hall next week he plans to ask for a cross-party working group to be set up, made up of two councillors from each of the three political parties.

He said: “It would have the remit to investigate, review and discuss solutions to the systemic management failures behind the delivery of basic council services, namely waste and refuse collection, parking permits and street cleanliness.”

An opposition councillor would chair the working group which would “provide recommendations … on ways to improve these services”.

Performance indicators suggest that the rate of missed refuse and recycling collections soared during the coronavirus pandemic – and before the latest strike.

Social distancing measures and staff having to self-isolate, after being pinged, were among the factors affecting performance.

The council has installed cameras to spot fly-tippers but contaminated recycling bins were said to have contributed to the high number of missed collections

In the past year, 169 complaints were made to parking services, with permits failing to arrive despite money taken having been taken from drivers’ bank accounts. Staff working from home didn’t help.

Some permits took more than a month to be sent out and people waiting for permits complained about unanswered calls, with the phone ringing off the hook, and emails also going unanswered.

A report into parking said: “Demand for contacting parking services has increased dramatically but … there is also a delay in processing.

“The service has reduced the backlog since its peak in December and are seeing reduced complaint volumes as a result.

“Further expansion of the digital offer will improve the customer journey when applying for or renewing permits.

“Implementation of the softphone solution allowing us to take calls from home will also improve the offer to customers.”

The meeting of the full council is due to start at 4.30pm next Thursday (21 October). The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

  1. Josh Reply

    Another Sir Keith, he more flags guy, mini-me without one once of ideas. Time to think LibDem?

  2. Robert Pattinson Reply

    So true the basics are not being carried out. The greens banned weed killer now our streets look a mess and weeds are causing trip hazards.
    The Greens put new bins right across the seafront area which are far too small that were meant for recycling but all three of the bins get emptied into one bin cart. So the public is making the effort to recycle but the council is not.
    Cycle lanes were put in place but many are little used and are causing traffic problems. The new cycle lane next to Hove lawns is little used as the original one right next to it is the preferred choice.

  3. Chaz. Reply

    Indeed the basics must be the start point.
    In fairness neither Labour nor the Greens have handled anything well.
    Cycle lanes from Labour and the Greens, underused and in the wrong places.
    Bin strikes under Labour and the Greens.
    So clearly if we vote Labour we get the Greens and if we vote the Greens we just get Labour.
    Neither is fit for purpose.
    Brighton needs adults from anywhere else.

    • Daniel Yates Reply

      There have been no bin strikes under Labour for over a decade Chaz.

      • Chaz. Reply

        2019 pride ring any bells?

      • Christopher Hawtree Reply

        Labour created Cityclean after the long problems with Sita, but, evidently, it has been as fraught as ever.

  4. Tania Reply

    Leave Cllr Wilkinson alone. He might be out of his depth, but he is trying really hard, alright. Would Kermit the frog do a better job? Maybe, but he is not a real person.

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