West Berkshire Council Weeknotes #81
Reflecting on community litter-picks and our own role keeping West Berkshire tidy, plans for a redevelopment of Newbury Lido and a brand new leisure strategy.
It's the start of April, the sun is out and it feels like we are finally able to put another difficult winter behind us.
Across West Berkshire residents have been making the most of the weather as they take part in the Great British Spring Clean. Organised by Keep Britain Tidy and running for another two weeks it's fantastic to see people coming out this year, as in previous years, to help keep their community looking neat and tidy.
Of course we have a role to play too and for the first time our waste team has been out on their own litter pick - as well as supporting communities to do their own. Often communities have the will to litter pick but don't have the kit they need so we help by loaning out kit to them - including 160 adult litter pickers and 70 children's pickers in stock. These kits are particularly popular during the Great British Spring Clean but over the past year we've supported 46 different community litter picking events. It's a great example of the Council working in partnership with local residents to make a difference in the district.
As you would expect we work hard, along with our waste contractor Veolia, to protect our environment and keep the district looking its best throughout the year. During the past 12 months we've responded to 935 fly tips, litter picked and swept over 1,240km of local roads and collected 419 tonnes of litter and swept up 1,667 tonnes of rubbish using our street sweepers.
We recognise that we live in a beautiful part of the country and that we have communities taking such pride in where they live. Whether it's litter-picking, flower planting or other community activities we commend everyone who continues to help West Berkshire to remain such a picturesque place to live and visit.
Of course we would rather that there is no litter to pick up in the first place and we continue to encourage people to think about avoiding creating waste in the first place, and taking litter home to recycle if they can. Across England, about £700 million - or £30 per household - is spent by local authorities each year in keeping streets free of litter. Some of this money could be used to fund more beneficial projects within our communities if the public continue to work with us to minimise the scourge of littering and fly-tipping.
The arrival of the sunny weather usually goes hand-in-hand with an increase in visits to our website and questions to us from eager swimmers wanting to know when the lido will open for the summer. For keen swimmers the answer is usually not soon enough as the ageing lido becomes harder to maintain each year and consequently takes longer for us to get ready for opening.
We recognise that it is one of our most popular local attractions and last week we committed to a £5m redevelopment of the facility to ensure it can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come. The work will include a new 50m pool, improved and accessible changing facilities and proposals for new features such an interactive splashpad. We're really excited about these plans and we know from speaking to local people that the local community is too.
Importantly the redevelopment means we will be able to open the lido from Easter to September - twice as long as before - and accommodate up to 50,000 visits a year. It will provide more opportunities for serious swimmers and family fun and encourage healthy and active lifestyles.
It's a big project and the work needs to be done during the summer months when normally the lido would be open. It means that this year we are unable to open the lido but we ask residents to be patient and know that what is to come next year will be worth the wait.
The lido is one of the feathers in the cap of our new leisure strategy which was also approved last week. The new strategy will guide what we do over the next decade and focus on increasing participation for everyone but particular those people who are less active, maintaining access to a network of modern and sustainable indoor sports and leisure facilities and to improve the quality, accessibility and awareness of outdoor sports facilities and play areas.
In addition to the new lido we will be committing £4.5m towards the redevelopment of Northcroft Leisure Centre and spending another £5.5 million delivering our Playing Pitch Strategy - and which includes a new sports hub in Newbury. It's a good time for us to be investing in this area and we look forward to seeing some of these projects taking shape very soon.
In the meantime, enjoy the sun and the opportunity to spend more time outdoors in the coming weeks.
- Council Leader Lynne Doherty's weekly video update this week comes from the Integrated Waste Management Facility in Padworth. You can watch it here: