Bradford District faces some big challenges and it will take the energy, efforts and resources of us all – the Council and public services, local people, communities and businesses - to meet them. None of us have all the answers but we all need to think about what we can contribute to creating the kind of place we want to live in because we can achieve far more working together than we ever can alone.
Right across the Bradford District people are working with pride and passion to make the it a safer and cleaner place where everyone can play an active role in their community, many of them giving their time for free to make life better for everyone.
Looking after the environment, helping to keep the places we live and work in clean and safe, reducing waste, increasing recycling and getting involved in the community are the right things to do.
Like all local authorities, we have to reduce spending so we need to agree a new deal with our partners and the people who live and work in the district and use local services.
With a lot less money than we’ve all been used to we can only make the district safer, cleaner and more active if the Council and other public services work with each other – but also with local people, communities, business and the voluntary sector – to change the way things are done.
Government funding for Bradford Council services has been cut by £167.6 million in the last few years and the reductions are set to continue. Increasing costs and rising demand for services mean that the size of the cuts we have had to make is even higher – we’ve had to find savings of £172.6 million since 2011.
Council Tax has been increased as well bringing the total that we've had to find in savings and extra income to over £180 million but the Council will have to keep on cutting spending in the future.
Between now and 2020 the Council will need to find between £125 million and £130 million to balance the books - that's over 30% of its current net budget and is on top of the savings already made.
It’s in everyone’s interest to produce as little waste as possible. It’s the right thing to do.
Every tonne of waste that’s not recycled – that’s the waste in your green bin – costs local taxpayers £83 to get rid of by putting it into landfill or burning it. It’s bad for the environment too, as every tonne creates between 200 and 400 cubic metres of greenhouse gas.
However, by re-using and recycling materials and equipment we can make money, reduce waste, help the environment and create a better place to live now and for our children and grandchildren.
On average every household in the district currently produces over 450 kilos of general waste a year.
If we could switch just 10% of the general waste in your green bin from landfill and incineration to recycling we’d save taxpayers over £1 million a year.
So it’s obvious. We need to reduce the waste going to landfill and increase re-use and recycling.
If together everyone does their bit to reduce waste and re-use and recycle more we can save money. We won’t have to collect people’s general waste as often because there’ll be less of it – and we won’t have to pay to put as much of it into landfill or have it burnt in incinerators.
At the moment we get a Government grant to help us to keep collecting rubbish every week. But this money runs out in 2017 and we need to decide what we do after that.
So, we’re thinking about collecting general waste from households once a fortnight instead of once a week.
One week we’d collect your general (green bin) waste and the next we’d collect your recycling (grey bin). With alternate week collections we’d still visit your home every week to make collections but these would be of different materials.
Many other places have made this change and when we’ve talked to local people about what the Council could do differently to save money a lot of you said move to fortnightly bin collections.
We don’t expect to be able to do this until 2017 but if we did but if we did it after that it could save the Council and taxpayers up to £1.5 million a year.
What do you think? Does it make sense?
Should we try it out in certain places first, do it all in one go or drop the idea completely?
Of course, to make alternate week collections work best we all have to take responsibility for reducing the amount of waste we produce.
Reducing the amount of packaging we use and reducing the amount of food we throw away is a great start. People in the UK throw away millions of tonnes of food every year and a lot of it comes in plastic packaging that we can’t recycle. The food waste and the packaging goes directly into landfills or is burnt in incinerators.
The Love Food Hate Waste campaign has lots of tips on how to reduce food waste.
You can reduce general waste by re-using things rather than throwing them away. Try repairing things instead of throwing them away as well.
The Council works closely with a number of local projects to help people re-use furniture.
Finally you can help us to avoid the financial and environmental costs of waste going to expensive landfill by recycling.
The Council can help you to recycle all sorts of materials through our kerbside recycling collections, by providing facilities at Household Waste Recycling Centres, and by supporting 'bottle banks’ and ‘bring sites’ at other locations.
So, there are no excuses – we expect everyone to recycle, for everyone’s benefit.
We know recycling rates are improving in Bradford District, but not fast enough. Local people still don’t recycle enough – some don’t recycle at all - and too much waste is sent to landfill.
We need to think of ways to get the non-recyclers recycling and to help the rest of the people to recycle more.
One idea is to put community recycling facilities in places where recycling rates are low and to provide those communities with a share of the income from recycling to spend in the local area. When we talked to local people about what could be done differently this is one of the things that some people said. We’re already doing this in some places to see how it works.
What do you think? Would this work in your area?
Are there other ways we can help people to recycle more and reduce the amount of waste they produce?
For more information visit our Recycling and Waste web page.
We are also asking people to think about the waste they produce and how to reduce it. If you’re really ambitious you aim for zero waste.
The zero waste website has loads of ideas on how you can cut back on the amount of waste you produce.
It’s unacceptable to drop litter and dump waste and expect someone else to clean up your mess.
Litter affects health and the environment, it makes people feel less safe and places with lots of litter tend to attract more, so we need to deal with it.
The Council spends £4.2 million a year cleaning the streets, picking up litter, clearing fly tips and dealing with dog fouling.
But it’s not the Council that drops litter, dumps rubbish or fouls streets. Nor do most people – about 80% of us never drop litter.
The Council will always have some work to do to keep things clean and tidy but we all have a part to play in keeping streets and public spaces clean. The main responsibility lies with the people who use them.
Be proud of your neighbourhood and keep it clean
Responsible businesses play their part in keeping their area clean because it’s good for business too. According to Keep Britain Tidy over a third of people would avoid buying from a business they associate with litter.
In particular, takeaways, pubs and bars need to be responsible for the areas outside their premises.
One of the things we are thinking about doing is getting a lot tougher on litterbugs in our city and town centres.
In other places councils have worked with private companies to hand out fines to offenders and promote zero tolerance of litter. The company gets a share of the income from the fines but other than that there is no cost to the council.
The number of fines would go up but the amount of litter should come down and those responsible would have to pay.
What do you think? Should we issue more and more fines to litterers?
Could this be successful in say, Bradford city centre or Keighley, Ilkley or Bingley town centres?
What other things do you think we could do, working together to reduce litter and get more people to act more responsibly?
Is there anything you or your local community could do to help? If the community took ownership of local spaces do you think that might help them stay cleaner?
Keep Britain Tidy estimates that nationally it costs taxpayers £1 billion to clean up after people.
If we can reduce spending on litter and disposing of waste and at the same time increase income by recycling more, then the less we’ll have to take from other areas like caring for the elderly, running libraries and children’s centres, or fixing potholes.
We’ll still have to make savings in other areas, but not as many.
All across the district people are active in the communities, contributing their time, energy and skills to help make them better places to live.
Active citizens are people who get involved in the community, look out for their neighbours or volunteer their time. It’s estimated that there are over 100,000 active citizens in the Bradford District (around 20% of the total population) and that volunteers contribute over £17 million to the local economy. The human value offered by active citizens is priceless.
Thousands of people and groups are involved in activities like running sports clubs, Guides, Scouts and youth groups, fundraising for good causes, keeping an eye on their neighbourhoods, helping the vulnerable and elderly, running food banks and much more.
With a lot less public money than we’ve been used we need to find new ways to support people to get involved and contribute to achieving the results we all want to see for the district.
If we can get people to help out with local services we have more chance of keeping them going.
Read our case studies.
We can all do the little things that make us good neighbours – saying hello, keeping the place clean. You could get involved in more organised activity in your area such as litter picks or working with public services to look out for people with dementia or disabilities. You could take up a formal volunteering role, raise funds to support local activities and encourage young people to become active.
There’s more information on our Be Neighbourly Bradford Facebook page
The Community Stars awards celebrate the efforts and achievement of people who give up their time and work tirelessly to improve the lives of others in Bradford District.
Whenever public services ask people about the things that really matter to them, being able to live their lives and go about their business safe from crime, abuse and harassment is always near the top of the list.
The Council works closely with the Police and other partners and communities to improve safety and quality of life right across the district through cutting crime, the fear of crime, disorder and substance misuse.
But all public services are coming under pressure from budget reductions and increasing demand and they all face difficult choices about how to use shrinking resources.
More and more we will have to look at how we work across organisations and communities sharing all the district’s resources, whether they are in the public, private or voluntary sectors or in our communities, to keep innovating and investing in preventative measures so we can carry on achieving positive results with less public money.
West Yorkshire Police in Bradford District will continue to work closely with partner agencies to reduce crime and make our communities safer. Staying focussed on what matters most, collaboration and close partnership working will become even more important as resources continue to be squeezed.
So we will need to be honest, open and transparent with the public about our priorities, what they can expect from public services and what they can do more of themselves to help.
For example, volunteers in Bradford are supporting the work of the police both at a neighbourhood level and in specialist departments.
You could help out as a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator. We know that where there are Neighbourhood Watch schemes there is less fear of crime and they have been increased across the district to improve the sharing of information on suspicious activity in communities.
The Online Watch Link allows residents to receive updates on crime in their area and provides details of your nearest Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
West Yorkshire Police are actively recruiting volunteers to be Special Constables working on the frontline of policing.
Special Constables are particularly valued and are highly trained to support full time officers responding to incidents.
You can find out more on the West Yorkshire Police website
Or you could sign up to be a Street Angel supporting the Police to help people to stay safe and enjoy their night out in the city centre.
What do you think? Do you have any ideas about what could be done to reduce crime, anti-social behaviour or substance abuse? Are you doing something in your local area that other people could learn from?