TRADERS have dismissed a call by the Mayor of Henley to come up with a way to solve the problem of commercial waste.
But they have supported his suggestion that they should help keep the streets clean.
Last week, Stefan Gawrysiak claimed the town’s night-time economy was being spoiled by bags of rubbish left on pavements every evening to be collected the following morning.
He said visitors and people on a night out should not have to see the trade waste and called on businesses to find a better solution. He suggested that the rubbish could be picked up the same evening.
But Lorraine Hillier, who runs the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street, said there was no obvious solution.
She said: “It’s very difficult because there are various companies collecting at different times. As a business owner, you can’t get up at 4.30am to put the rubbish out, it has to go the night before.
“If the collection moved to 6.30 in the evening, as the Mayor suggested, can you imagine the impact on the traffic and the gridlock the lorries would cause?
“Grundon used to do a collection later in the evening a few months ago, which I liked, but it wasn’t successful for them. They came round at about 10pm but I think they had trouble getting drivers to work those shifts.” Mrs Hillier, who is also a town councillor, said part of the problem was caused by people who were drunk kicking the bags in the streets.
“That’s when it looks a mess because it’s not always left in an untidy manner by owners,” she said.
“I don’t know an answer to it. It’s part of modern living that if you have businesses you will have rubbish out in the town.”
Nicholas Carlton, manager of Bagatelle Toys in Bell Street, said: “There’s nothing we can do about the collection times. It’s up to the companies to sort it themselves.
“To be honest, we have been having problems with Grundon — sometimes our boxes or bags won’t be picked up at all. They just seem to be very lazy about it and when we phone them to ask why they haven’t collected we are told there are too many boxes. However, very often we have just one or two boxes for them to collect.”
Waste contractors including Biffa and Grundon collect commercial waste between 6am and 8am. Grundon has said its staff working hours are 5.30am to 3pm and it won’t pick up waste in the evening.
A Biffa spokeswoman said: “Retailers tend to shut up shop at 5.30pm and whilst it would be ideal to collect at this time, the impact on local traffic as a collection vehicle passes slowly and safely would be significant.
“Our waste vehicles come through before the morning rush hour to minimise the impact on traffic flow.”
Meanwhile, the Mayor has launched a campaign to persuade traders to sweep and even scrub the pavements outside their premises. He said the drive for more cleanliness would engender civic pride and make Henley “more beautiful”.
He was supported by David Bird, general manager of the Strada restaurant in Bell Street, who said: “Even though we are a national brand, I am a local resident, as are many of my team, and we all take pride in the way Henley looks.
“We have been cleaning the pavement outside for many years using a pressure hose. I would be very happy to lend the equipment to other local businesses if they would like to use it. It’s a lot easier than manually scrubbing.”
Nestor Castillo, 58, who owns Café Buendia in Bell Street, said: “I sweep and wash the pavement when it needs it, normally once a week. This is a food premises so I like to keep it nice and clean at the entrance. If everyone started doing it then it would be fantastic. I’ve seen it done in other places.”
Christine Harris, 59, manager of Franco Belge in Duke Street, said: “I think the Mayor’s idea is a good one. If we all do our bit then the town would look much nicer.
“It all depends on how busy a business is, whether they could fit it in. We would probably have to do it in the afternoon.”
Town centre manager Pete McConnell said: “I fully support the call to keep Henley’s streets clean. It’s a question of everybody having a bit of civic pride and taking care of the communal areas they occupy.”
Cleaning the pavements is currently the responsibility of South Oxfordshire District Council, which uses contractor Biffa. A member of staff sweeps the streets and picks up litter rather than washing them.
A council spokesman said: “Under our current street sweeping contract, we cover all the main towns in the district with a dedicated town barrowman. In the centre of Henley these duties involve daily street sweeping, including the main pedestrian streets, public car parks and footpaths.
“In addition, Biffa has mobile crews covering various areas of Henley and other outlying villages on an eight-week cycle. These teams have particular streets to cover each week and the work consists of sweeping, cleansing and litter clearance. We do not undertake routine washing of streets as we do not consider this to be necessary. Should any urgent need arise across the district, then requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”