Plans to make criminals pick litter

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A MAJOR plan to use an army of criminals to spruce up Wigan’s eyesores has been proposed.

Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Probation Trust are currently working on a joint initiative to ramp up the use of Community Payback Service offenders and allow us, the taxpayers, to say what they should tidy up. At the moment, the local authority’s Beat It teams take part in regular litter picks and the mainstream cleansing department focuses on statutory land maintenance responsibilities.

A relatively small number of Community Payback Service members carried out larger jobs, such as clearing large fields and woodland areas.

But under a new initiative, the council will be using Community Payback Service on a much more regular basis to tackle high priority areas that fall outside of the council’s remit, such as clean-ups and removing fly-tips from unadopted or non-council land, and land where the owner cannot be traced.

Plus, there will be a referral system for residents to suggest grot spots.

Officers estimate the free labour will also save the council up to £135,000. To provide a comparative resource from external contractors could cost £170,000.

Instead, the Cleansing Section and Planning Section would pay the Probation Services £35,000 per year to employ a community service payback offer who will supervise six offenders on Community Orders for 37 hours a week.

Sally Wolstencroft, Head of Wigan Council’s Safer, Cleaner, Greener, said; “Working in partnership with the GMPT, we can provide at a very low cost to the tax payer a high-impact programme of activity that will help to make our borough a cleaner place.

“It’s a win/win initiative which will ensure that local offenders discharge their community punishments with positive payback and help to tackle eyesores on non-council land that blight our communities.

“Tough efficiency savings have been made across most service budgets including those that keep our streets and open spaces clean.

“The partnership with the Probation Service helps us continue to tackle fly-tips and grot spots in locations that we are not funded to maintain.

“The team will carry out work that would not otherwise be done because the local authority or other services do not have the statutory responsibility to do it, and in the current economic environment have no budget to carry it out.”