Birmingham City Council has been granted an injunction banning travellers from pitching camp in Swanshurst Park. Travellers who park their caravans on the park in future could be found guilty of contempt of court. This could lead to them having assets seized or even to them being sent to prison.
The action follows a number of occasions on which travellers set up camp in the park. Local residents found their presence intimidating and the travellers usually left large quantities of fly-tipped rubbish behind when they were moved on. The cost of cleaning up after these camps had to be met by the city council.
Councillor Karen McCarthy was quoted in the Birmingham Mail, saying “The court order was only made possible because residents were prepared to make statements, provide the evidence so the council officers could make the case.”
Two recent actions by Kings Heath Residents Forum (KHRF) members have achieved results.
BT Openreach premises in Howard Road East
A considerable amount of litter and fallen leaves had collected both on the frontage of the building and along the pavement side of the fence. A KHRF member contacted BT, explained that a Spring Clean was being organised in various sites and by various groups across Kings Heath. Would BT help by cleaning up the front of the premises in Howard Road East? Admittedly it’s a while since the Great British Spring Clean but the clean up outside the building has been completed.
Commercial waste on the High Street
Complaints were made about an accumulation of commercial waste behind retail premises on the High Street. It should have been in a closed container so that it could not be blown out into the street. The complaint was passed to the Environmental Health Regulation and Enforcement department and a Waste Enforcement Team visited the retailer. A member of the team explained the retailer’s legal responsibilities which hopefully means that this particular source of wind-blown litter has been stopped.
Thanks to Kate Smith of BT Openreach and the Waste Enforcement Team of Birmingham City Council for dealing with these issues so quickly.
A recent meeting of the Greener, Cleaner, Safer Environment (GCSE) group discussed a number of problems relating to litter and rubbish in Kings Heath. Several ideas were reviewed that could help to reduce the amount of litter in the area.
The group covers both Moseley and Kings Heath and is supported by Birmingham City Council.
One of the problems with litter is that it comes from several sources. As a result, the group is working with different parts of the community to try to clean up our streets. Part of this effort is a Litter Strategy. The plan is to get residents and local forums involved in developing and introducing a strategy. This will involve the group making sure that residents’ groups are able to comment on the strategy.
The business community is already involved. Several local businesses have signed up to the voluntary litter agreement and more will follow. In one case, the owner of Costcutter in Institute Road, has offered to supply and empty a bin outside his shop. Although he has been told by the City Council that he can’t do this, the GCSE group is working with the city’s Fleet and Waste Management (F&WM) team to get the ban overturned.
The F&WM team is also looking at the positioning of existing City Council owned bins. The plan is to make sure they’re in the right places and, if they’re not, to reposition them.
Schools also have an important role in reducing the amount of litter and they are being approached in two ways. Councillor Straker Welds, who chaired the GCSE meeting, will write to schools in the area and ask them to get involved in the Litter Strategy. He will also ask them to involve their pupils and will offer to go to the schools with the principal operations manager of the F&WM team to talk about the litter problem.
There was also a suggestion that members of staff, such as canteen support staff and cleaners, could clear litter from school surroundings.
In one particular case, the city’s Waste Prevention team is to visit Bishop Challoner College in Institute Road to advise on what the College can do to help tackle the local litter problem. Leaflets will also be distributed to residents in the area.
The traditional approach to litter problems, risky pavement areas and the other difficulties that affect our streets has often been to say that ‘somebody should do something’. In the past it seemed clearly to be the local authority’s responsibility. With major budget cuts over recent years, local authorities say they don’t have the resources to deal with these problems. So what can be done?
This question will form a major part of the Kings Heath Residents’ Forum Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 2 March at 7pm at Kings Heath Community Centre, 8 Heathfield Rd, B14 7DB.
The meeting, open to all, will include guests speakers from local action groups. They will explain what has been done already to improve conditions on Kings Heath’s streets and outline what is going to be done in the future.
But the important part of the meeting will involve local residents sharing their views and ideas on how Kings Heath can be improved.
Local councillors will also be there along with committee members from Kings Heath Residents’ Forum. They want to hear what you think so that your views can be taken into account when they’re planning ways to improve our streets.
This will also be Kings Heath Residents’ Forum Annual General Meeting and reports will be available on the Forum’s work in the past year.
For reference here is a link to the Residents’ Forum Constitution.