Tidy: ‘Hit squads’ to target some of Gwynedd’s tattiest streets
Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter
Councillors in Gwynedd have backed £1.5m plans which will see “hit squads” spruce up some of the county’s tatty looking streets.
Rewinding the clock back to the former “Community Gangs” that were removed due to budget cuts during the 2010’s, the revamped teams will target untidy areas that have been flagged needing attention or some TLC.
The report, presented to Gwynedd’s Cabinet on Tuesday, noted that the community teams would work separately to existing refuse staff but their tasks could include removing weeds and overgrowth, cleaning road signs, washing, repairing and installing street and dog fouling bins.
Also within their remit will be clearing minor fly-tipping, touching up with paint and tidying road verges, with officers admitting that the loss of the former gangs “was greater than anticipated at the time.”
According to Gwynedd Council, the scheme has been designed following the success of similar projects elsewhere, with Wigan Council having introduced ‘Sparkle Gangs’ which sees towns receive four days of deep cleaning every quarter.
Including activities such as sweeping roads and tracks, washing signs, clearing shrubs and spraying weeds, similar examples can also be found in Cardiff, Oxfordshire, Corby, Enfield and Salisbury.
Gwynedd’s own scheme, costing £1.5m over three years, will see five teams of two workers each travel in a small lorry while carrying equipment and materials to undertake a variety of minor works.
According to the report, the plan is to establish two teams each within Meirionnydd and Arfon, and one team in Dwyfor, acting on requests made by county councillors, community councils and others.
Gwynedd Council’s cabinet holder for highways and municipal, Catrin Wager, said that street cleanliness was one of the most common complaints presented to her as a local member for upper Bangor.
Adding that deploying such “hit squads” would result in aesthetic improvements there as well as other communities, she said that other often heard complaints across Gwynedd included beach littering, general untidiness and enhanced rubbish during the busier summer season.
But Cllr Cemlyn Williams also said that the move should not be seen as a “panacea” for all such issues, and that the people of Gwynedd also had a responsibility to look after their own localities.
Cllr Wager concluded, “My hope is that residents will feel that the overall appearance of their locality is improved, streets, villages and towns are tided up, and work will take place to improve the quality of their environment while tackling problem areas.
“Working with community, town and city councillors as well as local partners and organisations to identify areas, our work as county councillors will also be key to share where time and resources are needed to clear, tidy and clean up areas giving a real dose of TLC to community wards.
“We must thank the many organisations and voluntary groups who are doing heroic work in tidying, litter picking, flower planting etc throughout the county.
“The Clean and Tidy Communities Team will be working with those groups, as well as the usual officers who work for different departments of Gwynedd Council in their endeavours.
“They’ll be another piece in the big jigsaw puzzle.”
The move was unanimously backed, with £1.5m to be taken out of the transformation fund to pay for the project for the next three years.
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