Clean sweep for housing estates

Caption: (from left) Scott Gatenby, Mark Bell and David Bratten are working to help keep communities cleaner for longer.

The council has issued a rallying call to residents in housing estates to help keep streets clean.

Dedicated street cleaners are working in specific estates to give an extra boost and to support local residents to maintain tidy communities. These are in addition to existing estate caretakers and street cleansing staff.

The extra staff are focusing their attention on those areas where the layout of estates hinders existing services such as emptying wheeled bins and pavement sweeping vehicles.

Different approaches are being tried across the city to meet the different needs of each community and to allow the council to test which approach provides the best results.

As well as providing this enhanced street cleaning service, the estates are benefitting from the advice and expertise of dedicated environmental action officers.

They will be on hand to ensure people get to grips with their waste, storing and disposing of it properly, helping to avoid some of the littering issues that blight certain areas.

The educational focus is a key part of the new approach so residents understand the negative impacts of litter and the part they should be playing in sustaining cleaner, greener communities.

The environmental action officers will be taking enforcement action where necessary.

It’s hoped that the resources being ploughed into education and extra street cleaning will help local residents take action and gain a sense of pride and ownership in keeping their community clean.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said:

“We’re making this investment in some of our estates to make them cleaner, more attractive places to live. By working with residents, we can help instil a sense of civic pride.

“Taking a balanced enforcement and educational approach supported by the extra local cleaning staff means we can help people take ownership of issues affecting their estates and bring about behaviour changes that will help sustain cleaner communities.”

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“Estates have particular needs when it comes to street cleaning, so locally based staff are well placed to respond flexibly to those needs.

“As always, we’re keen to work with people to help them understand what impact clean streets – or otherwise – can have on their locality and help them achieve and maintain an attractive, clean and tidy environment.”


Mark Bell, David Bratten and Scott Gatenby have been working in estates in west north west Leeds.

We caught up with them in Wortley, to find out more about their role and the impact they are having in local communities.

What does your job involve?

We pick up our van and meet with the team to discuss where we’ll be working, then we head there. We start on one area and work our way through it. We can be in an area for two or three days or longer.

We litter pick, do strimming, collect and report flytipping, and cut back overgrown areas and ginnels. But litter is the biggest issue, we do a lot of litter picking. You pick litter up one day and you come back the next and there’s more.

We’re trying to change how we clean up streets and this is a good way of doing it; spending a week in one area and then coming back and working our way through again.

The more we get on top of things the easier and better it is for everyone else. We can get further into an estate and estates are starting to keep cleaner for longer. It’s a deeper cleaning, people can see that more, that we’re doing a deeper cleanse.

We have hotspots we have to hit every week, to check and clear any flytipping. Before we do, we’ll take a picture and take it back to the office, report where it was and our enforcement officer follows it up.

But if we have a hotspot we continually clear, people are going to think ‘oh well the council’s going to come to clean it up again so I’ll throw more rubbish there’, so we need to educate people not to flytip. It’s alright cleaning it up but if it’s going to be there again next week, it’s not having an impact we want.

We’ll clear up and check for evidence and that’s where we work with our enforcement officer. Its educating people not to flytip and continuing to enforce.

How can people help you keep streets cleaner?

This is a new way of working and people are starting to see us more. When we’re speaking to tenants we’re saying we’ll be back in a few weeks, so when we come back we can sort issues. But we don’t want people to rely on us. If we tidy up their area, they can they do their little bit to keep their area tidy too.

We need a bit of help from the public. People need to use bins more and we need people to understand that if you throw things on the floor then someone else has to pick that up. Simple stuff, like if you’ve got a wrapper, put it in your pocket or in the bin at home.

For example, we were cutting hedges last week. The minute we started, other people started to jump on board and cut their own hedges. It does work, people see that we’re trying to make it better for them.

There’s always going to be some people who might be saying ‘what are you doing, is this going to be worth the money it’s costing’, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to make it better for them; their area is going to be a lot better and a lot clearer for them.

What’s the biggest difference a cleaner estate will bring?

People are getting to see us more often on an estate, they know we’re around. So we’re working with the tenants and that’s a good thing.

We’re make an impact when we first go in to an estate and people can see a difference and everybody chips in and does a bit and stops dropping litter, uses bins.

Because we’re in an estate for longer, we do get a few people interested in what we’re doing in their area; they ask ‘what are you doing, what’s happening?’.

We need people to understand and get pride in the area so people see litter and pick it up and put it in the bin themselves.

We’re focussed on getting the job right and getting the streets right for people so they can be proud of the area they live in.

All of us like to see an impact, it makes us happy as well, to walk away and seeing a positive impact on an estate.

There’s so much involved in this job and you can see the impact you’re making. Now we’ve got the time to go in and to get estates nice and clean for tenants and hopefully then they will take the initiative and think ‘we’ve got a nice clean estate lets clean our gardens up and keep our streets clean’. It’s what we’re aiming to do for them.

Notes to editors:

The dedicated street cleaning teams will be carrying a range of duties including:

• Graffiti removal

• Cutting-back work

• Road and pavement cleansing with mechanical cleaners

• In depth de-littering

• Fly tip investigation and removal

• Removal of waste in gardens

• De-leafing

• Ginnel cleansing

• Environmental enforcement work

• Surveying

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577

email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk