The Knaresborough community is rallying round to save its street cleaner from what it claims is a ‘shameful’ threat as Harrogate Borough Council plans major budget cuts.
Even though the borough council has yet to complete its review and has made no decisions, residents are concerned about the future of what is believed to be the town’s only dedicated cleaner who has become a common, cheery face in the town centre.
Nearly 1,100 Knaresborough people have already signed an online public petition launched less than a week ago. James Roberts, the resident behind the “Support Knaresborough’s Street Cleaners” on the website change.org, said he had been amazed by the scale of the reaction to his campaign.
Update: New Harrogate roadworks next week
Read more at: https://www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk/news/business/update-new-harrogate-roadworks-next-week-1-9567864
James Roberts said: “It’s receiving massive support. Knaresborough has a wonderful community of people who really care for their town. David, the street cleaner, is one of these people. He is out in all weathers and always ready with a smile and a cheery “hello”.
“I have spoken to quite a few local residents, many of whom have lived here all their lives, and no one has a bad word to say about him. It is shameful that he should be faced with the prospect of losing his job after so many years of service.”
Harrogate Borough Council is aiming to save at least £511,000 over the next two financial years from its parks and environmental services budgets. It has already confirmed that “jobs will go” in the wide-reaching review but it denies this will necessarily impact on Knaresborough’s street cleaning.
Borough council leader Coun Richard Cooper said no decisions had yet been taken and the authority was committed to high standards of tidiness in the high street.
Coun Cooper said: “In respect of litter collection our streets will be maintained to the current high standards or better in whichever scenario.
“As someone who loves our district, particularly Knaresborough which I always show off to friends and family when they visit, that is not negotiable to me.”
Knaresborough Chamber of Trade & Commerce president Steve Teggin said the business community were worried about any possible reduction in service.
Steve said: " The chamber is very concerned at any possible reduction in services.
"Our concern is that Knaresborough has its share of the use of any of the new machines, otherwise it’s a smokescreen for cutting street cleaners."
The borough council acknowledges that it will be buying new street cleaning equipment, which may be where the rumour sweeping the town that Knaresborough’s street cleaner was being replaced by a machine began.
But it says paid staff will still be required to do the job.
Coun Cooper said: “We are committed to tidy streets as our activity in our retail centres has shown and if we can achieve this to an even higher standard using modern equipment and better organised rounds we would want to do so.
“It may be that this requires fewer people; it may require more. It may need less cash; it may require more.
“It’s too early to say yet and speculation of redundancies at this stage is unhelpful.”
But the resident behind the public petition, who moved to the town with his wife three years ago, said it was vital Knaresborough kept its own cleaner.
James Roberts said: “Whilst new bins and street cleaning machines are to be welcomed, people are more important, and can clean the places no machines can reach, as well as providing a presence across the town who can look-out for problems before they become serious.
“We need to show Harrogate Borough Council that the residents of Knaresborough value the people that work on behalf of the town, its businesses, and visitors, and oppose any plans for redundancies or other cuts to this valuable public service.”