Henley’s night-time visitors are being forced to navigate bags of business rubbish due to problems with commercial waste collection in the town.
Currently, rubbish from shops in the town is left outside on pavements from 5.30pm every evening, even though collection is not until 6.30am the following morning, some 13 hours later.
The Mayor of Henley, Stefan Gawrysiak, says people visiting Henley during the evening should not have to pass so much waste, and is hoping local traders can help to find a solution.
He said: “The businesses quite rightly put out their rubbish on the streets at 5.30 in the evening. The problem is that they’re not actually collected until the next morning. If you come for a meal in Henley you are walking past business waste.
“I want the business owners in Henley to come up with a solution. It could be they put their rubbish out at 5.30pm and it’s collected at 6.30pm. It is ruining the night-time economy of Henley.
“I think between 6 and 7 in the evening we could have a sweep through Henley and they could pick up the rubbish then. We ideally want the rubbish cleared by 6.30pm.”
Gillian Nahum, who runs Boatique in Hart Street, said: “When we do late night shopping I come out of my shop around 7pm and the streets are filled with rubbish. It’s a complete mess, we have to do something about it.
“I’m not sure what we can do but I think we do need to have a discussion, bring it out in the open and find a way forward.”
Commercial waste is collected by private contractors including Biffa and Grundon, who currently pick up the rubbish between 6 and 6.30am in the morning.
When Cllr Gawrysiak contacted the companies, they told him that they would not pick up at any other time due to the traffic in Henley
A spokeswoman for Grundon said: “Our working hours are 5.30am to 3pm. We make it into Henley for 6am and pick up the rubbish.
“We don’t pick up in the evening simply because after 3pm all our lorries are back here and there’s no-one out.”
Coffee house chains Starbucks in Market Place and Caffe Nero in Bell Street both leave large quantities of commercial waste outside their shops in the evening.
Pete McConnell, Henley’s town centre manager, said: “Commercial waste is a complicated issue. The agreement is down to the business and waste collection firm to decide when the rubbish should be collected.
“Most businesses put their waste out the night before to be collected in the morning. From the point of view of the town looking more attractive, it would be better to the night-time economy if the waste wasn’t on the streets.”