Street verges: Whose responsibility?

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

street_verge Whose responsibilities should they be, the street verges and the keeping of same: That of the local authority or that of the residents?

In many countries of Europe (and elsewhere) it is the residents' responsibility, legally enforceable, to maintain everything right up to the kerb in good order. This means to sweep the sidewalk and keep it clear of litter and in winter of snow and ice, and to mow any grass verges.
Why not in Britain? Here we hear many at times that it is the council's responsibility as they, the residents, do pay council tax and all that.

Hmm... but people in other countries too pay local taxes which are for refuse collections, maintenance of parks and public woodlands, open spaces, etc., roads and streets and the cleaning of same, including the removal of litter in public areas. And no one moans about “having to do it”.

street_verge_garden In some areas residents, individuals, as well as small groups, do like they do in other European countries and keep and maintain nice clean verge areas themselves, and those must be applauded and lauded, and that is on a voluntary basis.

However, in general, when it comes to such kind of actions the British seem to be lacking any kind of public spirit, especially now in the modern austerity age, where they know full well that the councils do not have the funds and resources available.

Still, instead of cutting the little bit of grass that forms the verges in front of their houses when they do their own lawn, they make phone calls, and send letters and emails to the council complaining that it has not been done.

It really does not take much to cut a few feet of grass or to pick up that can or two that have been dropped just in front of the house on the sidewalk. That, however, seems to be far too much to ask of the people. “That's what we pay our taxes for”, they say time and again.

With a little more of public engagement we could all be a community again proper and our villages, towns and cities could be real livable areas, free of littler and, maybe, even vandalism.

© 2011