I had a really engaging chat with a local resident whilst out on my Saturday morning rounds. At the heart of it was the reality that small things matter a lot!
At this time of year, as I look out from my bedroom window, I can see bunches of daffodils sprouting from the base of the trees on the opposite side of the street. It’s an absolute pleasure. Those daffs aren’t there by accident, they’ve been planted by my neighbour over the road. She looks after the base of those trees as if they’re an extension of her own front yard. She didn’t have to plant them, and she doesn’t have to look after them. She does it because she has a generous heart, and believes that small things matter a lot.
The conversation I had with the other resident on Saturday wasn’t quite so inspiring, in fact it was quite the opposite. He was upset about the state of the back lane behind his house. That’s not an unusual thing for me to hear, indeed its why I started the ‘Love Your Lane‘ Facebook group. He’d seen the group, but was wondering why I was inviting residents to step up, rather than just getting the council to clean up. As I explained my reasons to him it crossed my mind that perhaps other residents have the same question. So here goes…
Firstly, the council absolutely have a responsibility to maintain a good level of cleanliness around our local streets, whether that’s at the front or the back of the houses. A good chunk of my case work involves liaising with the council on issues relating to the state of back lanes. Often it will be individual items that mysteriously appear in back lanes and are too big to go in wheely bins. Whether or not they are left out by residents is always difficult to establish. Then there’s actual fly-tipping, where a van load of debris is just dumped. Thankfully that’s quite rare. The council have a hit squad who respond very quickly when I report fly-tipping. And then there’s the rubbish that accumulates when wheely bins blow over, often when they’re left out all week rather than being put away into the back yard. All these issues and more will end up in my inbox, and I ensure it all goes to the council to be sorted.
But here’s the thing. After 3 years of dealing with the state of our back lanes I’ve learned this: Some back lanes present issues over and over again. Some never present a problem. It begs the question, why is that? Whilst some of the usual suspects are by busy routes where passers-by are potentially to blame, others definitely aren’t. The main difference I can see is that where residents are willing to take that little bit of extra care for the lane behind their back gate, the difference is quite noticeable.
Back to my chat on Saturday… When it came down to it, the issue that was really bothering the resident was that one of his neighbours is careless with his dog, letting it foul in the back lane. I’ve promised to support him with action to put a stop to that. But what a contrast! One resident on one street planting flowers, and another just a couple of streets away letting their dog foul wherever it pleases.
That’s what’s at the heart of Love Your Lane, and indeed at the heart of my whole approach to being your local councillor. It’s about recognising that the council can and should deal with the services we expect them to, but that at the same time we play our part as well. However small your contribution may be, it matters 🙂