Will imposing fines keep streets clean?
Councillor Bob Goodman’s faux defence justifying his plans to recruit a ‘private litter army’ to issue on the spot fines to anyone who drops litter in Bath and elsewhere revealed how few ideas the Conservatives now have for improving our area. It came on the same day it was revealed there had been a 636 per cent rise in missed domestic waste collections following the change in collection arrangements agreed by the Conservatives last year. This is important because it shows that waste left behind by the council is likely to end up on the streets as litter and further undermines the Conservative’s claims that they are acting in the best interests of residents. What in fact emerged as a consequence of the Lib Dem challenge was clear evidence that Councillor Goodman took his decision to employ private contractors to enforce action against littering in the face of the facts rather than because of them and therefore acted irrationally in doing so. Predictably the Conservative members considering the challenge closed ranks and rejected our challenge. We are not opposed to tougher action against people who litter but we doubt that employing private contractors whose incentive is to issue as many fines as possible is ultimately in the best interests of residents or will improve standards of cleanliness on our streets. Councillor Goodman also seems to have forgotten that in a democracy the right to scrutinise and challenge those who make decisions is a basic tenet of British society. All too often I have heard him dismiss such challenges as ‘playing politics’ thereby seeking to diminish the legitimate right to protest we are all proud of in this country. The Conservatives may think they have hegemony over those of us who oppose their views but thank goodness elections regularly occur that offer the opportunity for voters to challenge that view. Richard Samuel Liberal Democrat councillor for Walcot and spokesperson on community services