I was contacted in June in respect of an infestation of rats at a property on Gorse Street. This was an exceptionally large and bold infestation that were moving openly on a lean-to roof of the property’s outbuilding.
Whilst the infestation of rats was the trigger for the contact, there were a lot of separate issues in connection with the alleyway.
The Chester Road businesses are generally keeping their commercial waste bins in the alley. Most are unlocked, but increasingly we’re seeing commercial bins locked shut. This is welcome, but has implications for the flats above shops. Bags of household waste are routinely thrown into open commercial bins.
An issue as recently as June was the blocking of the alley drain due to congealed oils and fats. There have been long periods of the drain being blocked and a large milky white sludge collecting as a large puddle in the alley. Responsibility was disputed between the council and United Utilities, but I understand that that is now clarified with the council taking on responsibility.
However, residents understandably are keen the takeaways undertake their business responsibly and it has not always been the case.
When a business ceases trading
At least one of the takeaway businesses ceased trading during the first lock-down and essentially shut-up shop, leaving their commercial waste uncollected and un-invoiced.
This was unresolved for months. The bin was left festering whilst accumulating even more black waste bags alongside it.
Eventually this bin was removed, presumably by the contractor; and the Council removed the bags (as fly-tipping) a week or so later.
As a minimum, I’m arguing that there needs to be clear indications as to which business a bin belongs to. If a business does ‘a runner’ and ceases trading it should be made relatively easy for a third party to contact the waste contractor. On this bin I couldn’t do that, all I could do was tell the waste contractor it was one of theirs and it was unlikely they’d get paid for removing it.
We should therefore expect it to be standard that all commercial bins in the alley should have an indication as to which business they are contracted to. We would hope that the council would make this a condition of keeping bins in the alley.
We would also expect that commercial bins in the alley should be locked so as to avoid accumulating fly-tipped waste and overflowing.
Flats above the shops with no bins
We’ve inherited a situation where it’s commonplace that no bins are attached to the flats above the shops there. Even if they had bins, it’s not clear where they could be kept.
Quite sensibly in many ways, the residents use plastic bags to take out and dispose of the waste. However, it’s not efficient and encourages pests; and it’s never been part of the waste contract whether Amey or their predecessors to collect waste in bags. We do not want to change that.
But it’s completely unacceptable to have the situation we had with the commercial bin in the photograph. Most of that waste is domestic ‘fly-tipped’ waste put into a commercial bin that was abandoned.
We’ve got to get to a proper scheme of waste disposal for these flats. They’re council tax payers and they’re entitled to a proper scheme. I don’t know whether that will be bin stores in the alley or some form of communal bins, but the current situation is not tenable. We need to work with the residents to come up with a solution.
Although we made massive strides since June, we’ve still got a way to go. I want to get to a situation where rats go hungry and move on by, that there’s not a ready supply in the alley.