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County Councillor Report (Jul 2021)

by Wendy Pattison

wendy.pattison@northumberland.gov.uk – Tel. 07779 983072

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

Photo portrait of Councillor Wendy Pattison

[All text and the above portrait photo provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received: 27 June 2021.]

HEDGELEY PARISH

Below is some information which you may already be aware of, but it is always useful to know in regard to Northumberland County Council Services.

Weeds being tackled after ‘perfect storm’ of weather conditions

The council is reassuring residents that grass cutting and weeding around the county is continuing – despite the ‘perfect storm’ of weather conditions. 

Prolonged periods of rain followed by much dryer and warmer conditions over recent weeks have led to the grass and weeds growing at a rapid rate across Northumberland. And with 8.5 million square metres of grass to tackle each year, getting round it all takes some time, with the recent growth spurt it is taking us longer than normal and the longer grass unfortunately means more arisings being left once grass is cut. 

Greg Gavin, Head of Neighbourhood Services, explained: “We have all our grass cutting crews out but because of how long the grass is residents might see a few more clippings left behind than usual.  

“Weed spraying is either underway or about to start in all areas of the county so residents should start to see weeds dying back over the next couple of weeks. 

“We want to reassure people we are doing everything we can to ensure our towns and villages are looking their best over the coming months.” 

Grass cutting

The council’s grass-cutting operations commence from the beginning of April until the end of September, depending on conditions. The grass is cut around once every 14 days during this period.

The council cuts grass in some housing estates, parks, schools, highway verges and open spaces throughout the county, as well as in out-of-town amenities and country lanes.

Additional cuts may be requested by town and parish councils and housing companies in October and March. If a member of the public is particularly concerned about grass on footpaths, they can report the problem below or ring customer services on 0345 6006400.

NCC do not collect grass cuttings, except on plots within elderly people’s residential developments.

Neighbourhood services litter collection information

Northumberland County Council has a legal duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to act as the litter authority for Northumberland.

This responsibility includes:

  • street cleaning
  • litter collection
  • removal of detritus
  • fly-posting
  • graffiti
  • fly-tipping on public land maintained by the council

The cleansing programme is based on requirements set out in the code of practice on litter and refuse 2006, including types of land, zoning, response times and responsibilities of authorities.

Accurate and systematic monitoring of street cleanliness is constantly carried out to identify when and where litter problems are likely to occur, putting procedures in place to maintain standards.

Maximum effort for street sweeping is concentrated in the town centres, where there is the highest volume of people working and shopping. More outlying areas require less effort to keep them clean.

Experience has highlighted ‘hot spots’ throughout the area which need extra. In addition to the street sweeper, the council uses street vacuum cleaners and a range of mechanical sweepers, large and small.

Litter removal from A1 & A19 highways within Northumberland

The council is responsible for removing litter and detritus from all ‘A’ roads within Northumberland, including the sections of the A1 and A19.

The Highways Agency’s contractor A-one+ cuts the grass, repairs fences and fills potholes on the A1 and A19. Northumberland County Council are responsible for removing litter from the verges and central reservations.

Northumberland County Council endeavours to remove litter and detritus from ‘hot spot’ areas on major roads in Northumberland at least once a year. However, the division of responsibility presents a number of difficulties.

If there is no pavement or safe access, permission has to be obtained from the Highways Agency to carry out lane closures. To avoid congestion and achieve journey time reliability targets, the agency often requires closures to take place at night.

To deal with the challenges of safe working on high speed roads at night, we work in partnership with A-one+, the Highways Agency contractor, to carry out staff inductions, allowing our cleansing teams to take advantage of scheduled traffic management and lane closures already arranged by A-one+.

  • To report a litter ‘hot spot’ on the A1 or A19 or any other major road within Northumberland, call 0345 600 6400 or report online.

Further information: Street Care and Cleaning

Litter

Please don’t drop litter. Use a litter bin or, if there isn’t one handy, take your litter home and put it in your waste bin if you can’t recycle it.

Dog fouling can be bagged and disposed of in normal litter bins. NCC encourage the public not to place dog fouling into bins within children’s play areas.

Dog owners have a responsibility to pick up after their pets and should place bagged dog fouling in a litter bin/dog waste bin or take bagged dog waste home with them.

Community litter picking

Northumberland’s face is its fortune. The cleanliness of the county is an important part of the quality of life of residents and in encouraging visitors.

Rubbish is the first thing we want to tackle. You can help by organising a litter pick in your area.

NCC will help by providing equipment and advice and taking rubbish away

LOVE Northumberland litter pick information pack

Below sets out what you need to know to begin improving your county.

Plan your litter pick

  1. Choose an area you want to clean up. If it’s public land maintained by Northumberland County Council, telephone 0345 6006400 and let us know the area you intend to litter pick. If it’s privately owned land, get permission from the landowner(s).
  2. Decide when you want to do it.
  3. Tell your friends, family and neighbours you need their help.
  4. Northumberland County Council will provide litter pick packs for up to 20 people. These include:
  • litter pickers
  • rubbish sacks
  • high-visibility waistcoats
  • gloves
  1. Contact Northumberland County Council. Call 0345 600 6400 to:
  • arrange a collection point to have the collected rubbish taken away
  • get advice on storing the rubbish safely until it can be collected (if necessary)
  • obtain facilities to recycle items you collect on your litter pick, such as plastic bottles, drink cans
  1. Complete a risk assessment. This simple procedure ensures you have considered any safety issues and taken necessary precautions to try and prevent them.
  2. Prepare yourself and your helpers for the day:
  • Decide where you will meet and at what time.
  • Think about how to split the group up to cover the area.
  • Decide how long you will litter pick and when you will take breaks.
  • Think about refreshments and what toilet facilities are available.
  • Think about first aid, safety and hygiene. Is there a first aider in the group? Do you have a supply of antibacterial wipes or hand gel? Take some plasters and antiseptic for any cuts or grazes.
  1. Go through an activity planning checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
  2. Contact Northumberland County Council communications team on 0345 600 6400 and let them know what you are doing. They may want to include your litter pick in the local papers or Northumberland magazine.

On litter pick day

  1. Brief the group on:
  • health and safety. Check everyone has read the safety checklist, knows how to use the equipment and what to avoid.
  • meeting points, break and finish times
  • where to place the collected rubbish
  • who the first aider is and/or what to do if an injury occurs
  1. Check everyone is wearing or has appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather and terrain.
  2. Ensure there is sufficient supervision for young/vulnerable volunteers.
  3. Ask the group to be considerate to wildlife and people using the area
  4. Exchange mobile phone numbers to ensure good communication links between the group.

Litter pick safety checklist

  • Use gloves and avoid direct contact with litter at all times.
  • Use a litter picking tool where possible for any glass and metal items.
  • Any needles or sharp objects should be dealt with by a fully trained member of the Councils neighbourhood environmental action team. Do not pick up any suspect items, particularly those listed as hazards. Note their location and report them to the council immediately following the litter pick.
  • Clean hands thoroughly before eating food or drinking.
  • Rubbish should not be compressed using hands or feet, as this can accidentally puncture the skin.
  • Avoid contact with the body when carrying plastic bin bags.
  • Ensure any cuts or abrasions are clean and covered with a waterproof plaster.
  • Wear stout shoes and waterproof clothing.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects or sacks alone – ask for assistance if required.
  • Be aware of your environment and do not put yourself at risk while picking litter. 

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