Anti-social citizens and out-of-town opportunists are now firmly in the sights of Calderdale Council.
As a priority fly-tippers, litterers, dog fouling, planning breachers, noise makers – business or domestic – beggars, buskers, illegal on-street parkers, vehicle abandoners and poor landlords will be targeted by a new approach after councillors approved recomendations of an Enforcement Review.
The scheme will also save money, Cabinet members heard, but there was some criticism from opposition politicians about a funding cut.
Making its decision at Halifax Town Hall, Cabinet heard Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden), portfolio holder for Communities and Neighbourhood Services, outline policy which will encapsulate an operational mantra of using the right resource quickly and at the right time.
“The new approach can be summed up as robust but fair and proportionate,” she said.
Changes will also save the council, which has to find almost £1 million of cuts in 2019-20, around £100,000 in savings by the service becoming more efficient.
In particular ways of dealing with abandoned vehicles and fly-tipping will be changed, the intention being to provide an online system to do so.
It is also intended members of the public who make a complaint will be able to track it more easily so it can be seen action is being taken.
Services will be restructured to produce the best results and there is something of a carrot and stick approach, with education to encourage people to behave better and guide young people running alongside more willingness to use measures available to it to nip problems in the bud.
In the councillors’ briefing paper it said: “The review is simply about making sure the council can deal quickly, firmly and transparently with people who display the classic trait of anti-social behaviour – a lack of consideration or respect for fellow community members and who thinks laws, regulations and conventions apply to everyone but them.
“If left unchecked, this behaviour can have a corrosive impact on the quality of life of law-abiding citizens, whether that’s through planning breaches, fly-tipping, dangerous housing conditions, poor air quality or other common forms of anti-social behaviour such as noise nuisance or dog fouling.”
Coun Bob Metcalfe (Lab, Town) said the changes would tackle exactly the sort of issues councillors heard their constituents
upset about when they brought issues to ward forums.
But Liberal Democrat Group Leader Coun James Baker (Warley), while welcoming the new direction, was critical of a decision to cut some enforcement funding.
“This issue has been close to my heart for a few years – hopefully this can achieve change.
“It is a really major problem affecting people’s day-to-day quality of life,” he said.
He was disappointed an extra £100,000 of funding for an Environmental Task Force, which had previously been agreed in budget negotiations and which would have helped tackle enforcement problems, had been cut from the budget.
“I feel it has broken the agreement we had,” said Coun Baker.
Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said the saving had been introduced as being one of a number of areas which needed to be reviewed going forward.