‘It’s definitely not a clean place to live’: Withington residents aim to improve ‘dreadful state’ of local streets

  • Withington residents run frequent litter picking sessions after feeling ‘badly let down’ by unclean streets
  • Believe council not doing enough to keep neighbourhood tidy
  • Frustration follows 58% increase in council expenditure to BIFFA from 2017 to 2021

Withington residents have taken matters into their own hands after feeling ‘badly let down’ by the ‘dreadful state’ of unclean streets and communal areas.

The neighbourhood has been subject to a growing amount of litter, graffiti and other environmental concerns.

An FOI request was submitted to Manchester city council last year asking about the cleaning and maintenance schedule of Withington’s main roads.

Jack Harris, who made the request, stated: “Copson Street, Wilmslow Road and Old Moat Lane in Withington district centre all suffer from high levels of littering and uncleanliness.”

Withington Village Action Group, an offshoot of the area’s Civic Society, has recognised these issues and is similarly dissatisfied with the area’s cleanliness.

Rita Whitehead, a member of the group, said: “It is definitely not a clean place to live.

“The basic infrastructure is in a dreadful state and needs to be properly addressed. The pavements are in a terrible state [and] the roads and car parks are full of litter.”

The group runs regular litter picks, with members of the public meeting to clean up their community.

Withington, Civic Society, litter, streets, clean, community
Residents take part in litter picks every month in an attempt to make Withington cleaner

Rita added: “I am one of the locals that is involved in litter picking and have done this for years, although is it only every few months.”

However, Withington Village Action Group believes more should be done by the council to keep the area tidy.

“Some areas have litter pickers and I think we are being badly let down by not having this resource,” said Rita.

“We have been told that Withington district centre does not have enough shop units to qualify for a litter picker.”

This frustration comes as the council’s expenditure details reveal that their spending towards BIFFA, which is responsible for street cleaning and waste management, rose by 58% from 2017 to 2021.

The council spent £27,541,995 on BIFFA’s services in 2021, compared to only £17,784,132 on this in 2017.

In some months expenditure almost doubled, rising from £2,391,222 in December 2017 to £4,372,371 in December 2021.

However, Withington residents do not believe the area has benefited.

“There has been no visible difference to Withington. Our area definitely needs more doing,” said Rita.

“We have had several ‘action plans’ with no action.”

In response, a council spokesperson said: “BIFFA deploy resources based on cleanliness standards and rates of deterioration to ensure that standards do not fall below a grade B (predominantly free of litter).

“The service is sometimes manual, sometimes mechanical, and sometimes both, depending on requirements and access.

“In respect to shop fronts and district centres, these areas are cleaned to a minimum grade B standard prior to 8.30am each morning Monday to Saturday.”

The council encourages people to get involved with litter picking initiatives to help make the city cleaner.

However, this is not enough for the action group.

Rita said: “The reply from Manchester city council in my opinion is vague, unclear and nonsense. There is very little evidence that regular cleaning takes place.”

The local Civic Society was created over 40 years ago to conserve local heritage and make the town an attractive place for residents and visitors.

Alongside their litter picking sessions, they frequently host meetings and activities to target the rise in antisocial behaviour, graffiti, litter, fly-tipping and aggressive begging within Withington.

Their next litter picking session takes place on 26 March at Fog Lane Park.