'Language barriers no excuse', councillor says amid more fly-tipping on Sheffield estate
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Since the lockdown began tensions have been rising in Page Hall and Fir Vale over “disgusting” fly-tipping and members of the Roma Slovak community allegedly ignoring social distance rules.
One resident told The Star: “I find it absolutely astonishing how much mess is in this area, even under current circumstances.
“Fly-tipping and littering is deliberately thrown by Roma Slovaks. They are still sending kids out on streets unsupervised, even during this lockdown.”
Councillor Mark Jones, cabinet member for environment, streetscene and climate change, is one of three ward councillors who cover the area.
He said while language “feels like it should be an excuse,” it is not.
“There’s always language barriers in a diverse community like we have,” said Cllr Jones.
“I don’t believe there’s a language barrier at the moment. We have worked long and hard to make sure language isn’t an issue.”
Police and neighbourhood wardens have “made sure everyone is getting the message”, he said.
He added: “There’s always someone in every house that is able to make sure that everyone understands what’s being said.
“Language is sometimes being used as an excuse. I think people are just struggling with the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in.”
As well as police enforcing the lockdown rules, neighbourhood wardens have been “patrolling regularly” in the area, reinforcing the message to stay at home, Councillor Jones said.
He added: “In areas where people are living on top of each other and it’s really difficult to get away from your neighbour, I fully understand that tensions do rise.
“No one should be taking opportunities to fuel vendettas. Far too many people are being far too irresponsible.”
Councillor Jones said: “We need to be kind at this time more than any other.
“I defy anyone to tell me that the fascists going round trying to spread hatred is responsible at the best of times. The hypocrisy is lost on too many.”
He admitted he had sympathy for those living in “densely built-up areas”.
”It’s difficult for people to maintain social distancing,” he said.
“The longer this lockdown goes on, the harder it’s going to be for people to maintain social distancing in crowded housing.”
On complaints about those breaching the lockdown, he added: ”I’m distressed myself to see people out and about, to see people on the streets. We need to be responsible, but we need to understand.
“These are difficult times and we need everyone to take responsibility.”
And on the issue of fly-tipping, he said: “Let’s be blunt about this, don’t put rubbish on the streets.
“I understand more people are at home in crowded properties and people do struggle with their rubbish – that’s why recycling centres are kept open.”
Councillor Jones conceded “it’s difficult to do anything at this moment in time” about fly-tipping in the area because of the lockdown.