Keeping estates clean and tidy until recently was the responsibility of estate workers. There was one in each major neighbourhood. They were sometimes styled as estate “handymen” and part of their duties was to repair minor items of street furniture. They were funded from rents.
They helped to keep neighbourhoods in good condition and would often be seen in the area proactively dealing with issues.
The Council recently decided to get rid of the role with responsibilities transferred to a mobile team. Since the change, there has been a noticeable drop in standards. This seems mainly to be due to the fact that, rather than routinely patrol areas looking to address issues before they were widely noticed, the new approach is mainly “reactive”.
That is the staff respond to complaints.
Many will remember fondly the last decade when the Council, for a time, employed “lengthsmen” to give local roads that extra bit of care. They achieved more in improving standards than mechanical sweeping alone could provide.
That sadly also is a now thing of the past.
The drop in standards has been an increasing concern for residents associations. The issue has been drawn to the attention of Executive Councillors who have responsibility for service quality. There has been little response so far.
Unless the Council publishes an acceptable service standard contract for activities like these – the core of its work as a public authority – then it is likely that volunteer efforts will tail off.
That would be a great shame as whole communities would suffer.