Network Rail can’t mow grass and pick up litter at the same time!

Its bank holiday weekend, and I am ashamed of how dirty our town has become.

Fly-tipping is growing after the Coder Road recycling centre was shut down despite overwhelming opposition to the move.

In recent days, we’ve had a pile of fly-tipped debris removed from Back Lane between the Racecourse and Onibury.

Former fridge of Back Lane
Former fridge on Back Lane

But anything dumped on private land is not Shropshire Council’s responsibility. The costs for this removal falls on the landowner or tenant – that’s why the council is not sweating over costs it might incur from the Coder Road closure. And that is why there is still fly-tipped rubbish and office equipment along Back Lane.

There is a huge problem with litter and fly-tipping on Network Rail land in and around Ludlow. Tracey Huffer, Viv Parry and myself are pressing the company to meet its legal obligations to keep the land it owns free of litter. The community relations manager for Network Rail told us:

“Litter and fly tipping is a perennial issue for is and I would like to assure you that plenty of effort and resource goes into keeping our railway tidy.”

Can you see any evidence of that happening? Of course not. Network Rail is so inefficient that when it sent a maintenance team to cut the grass above the tunnel at Ludlow station, the team failed to clean up the rubbish it exposed.

When challenged by a resident on why this was so, he was told: “Someone else will do that.” No one has done that. I asked Network Rail why this was so. The company replied:

“Regrettably, if a site team are undertaking a particular task on our infrastructure then they have to keep within their remit; it is not as simple as taking on additional tasks whilst in the area as the relevant permissions/arrangements have not been sought to do this.”

I was very angry with this response and emailed back:

“Permissions do not need to be sought when you are on your own property. If keeping within a remit that allows cutting grass but not picking up litter, then you have a problem with the remit. If your arrangements are wrong, then you have got them wrong. This is simply no good enough.”

I am astonished that Network Rail site teams can’t mow the grass and pick up the litter at the same time. Customers and residents don’t want dirty stations and tracks. But while Network Rail has a jobsworth attitude to litter and fly-tipping, that’s what we will get.

Litter on Network Rail land, Sheet Road
Litter on Network Rail land, Sheet Road

Robin Basu is the Community Relations Manager for Network Rail: Robin.Basu@networkrail.co.uk.

There is a new twist on fly-tipping. My thanks to ‘A’ for alerting me to the rubbish fly-tipped into the recycling bins on Smithfield car park. That’s easy to do because the bin lids are not locked.

Fly-tipping in Smithfield bottle bank
Fly-tipping in Smithfield bottle bank

I’ve reported this to Veolia.

We have a problem with smells too. Ludlow Skip Hire has taken over the waste transfer station on Temeside behind the Furniture Scheme. The company has inherited a huge pile of rubbish and it’s trying to reduce the volume. But as the temperatures rise, it’s causing a bit of a stink. Viv Parry is on the case. I’ve asked officers to check with the Environment Agency whether the site is operating within its licence conditions.

Ludlow Skip Hire
Ludlow Skip Hire

We need employment in town, but this is probably wrong sort of business to be located alongside housing. We need to plan for the long term regeneration of this area while ensuring that existing businesses do not cause problems for residents.