Sheffield residents warned to expect dirtier streets if cuts to cleaning service are approved

Manual street cleaners could be replaced by machines.
Manual street cleaners could be replaced by machines.
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Sheffield Council has warned residents to expect more litter on the streets as it cuts back on cleaning in an attempt to save £12 million over the next 20 years.

The authority wants to change the terms of the Streets Ahead contract with Amey to reduce the number of 'cleanses' in residential areas of the city from four per year to three.

The number of 'cleanses' in residential areas could drop.

The number of 'cleanses' in residential areas could drop.

It also wants to increase the response time to complaints of fly-tipping from one business day to two.

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And the council has proposed replacing manual collections in the city centre and in hotspots such as shopping streets with street cleaning machines - something which could lead to a drop in standards in some areas.

It is hoped the changes - which also include the introduction of 'smart bins' which sense how full they are and report back - will save about £600,000 per year for the remaining 20 years of the Streets Ahead contract, or £12 million.

Sheffield's service is 'gold-plated', according to the council.

Sheffield's service is 'gold-plated', according to the council.

The council says the current 'gold plated' service is amongst the best in the country - and would still be very good even with the proposed cuts - but is currently not affordable.

Its says during several trials of the reduced service the public 'did not notice the difference'.

And the council also wants residents to play their part by not dropping as much litter.

Some street cleaning jobs would be lost as a result of the changes, although the council has not said how many.

A report to cabinet says: "It is likely that residents will notice an increase in litter in residential areas due to the lower cleansing frequency and the fact that reaction times for removing reported litter will be relaxed which could result in litter being left on the highway for longer periods of time."

The council says it is able to alter the contract because the proposals are not a 'material change'.

Director of culture and environment Paul Billington said: "“If agreed, the proposal will enable the council to make long-term financial savings throughout its 25-year Streets Ahead contract whilst helping protect critical services such as adult social care and ensuring Sheffield’s standard of street cleaning and grounds maintenance remain high and comparable with other large UK cities.”

But leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group Coun Shaffaq Mohammed criticised the plans.

He said: "The Labour council may not think so but litter is still an issue in this city.

"The Lib Dems would make street cleaning a priority, as we showed in our budget earlier this year, rather than rolling back a much needed service.

"It's also very concerning that the council are trying to sneak out these major changes over summer and in private, rather than out in the open at a public cabinet meeting."