Council advertises services they don’t have the capacity to provide

12 Jan 2024
Cllr Leigh Coombs

The volunteer residents group managing estate services in Shortstown has been turned away by Bedford Borough Council when trying to purchase extra litter picking and dog waste bin collections for residents, despite the Council advertising these services for organisations on Facebook.

Shortstown Councillor and Chair of the group, Councillor Leigh Coombs, asked the Mayor why this was the case. He said “The group have recently encountered a concerning contradiction. Despite Bedford Borough Council's advertised commitment to providing commercial cleansing services, including litter picking and emptying dog waste bins for businesses and organisations, our request for these services on the New Cardington estate was declined due to a lack of resources.

“This response is perplexing, especially considering the council's public promotion of such services. Can you clarify why dedicated volunteers, striving to improve living standards for over a thousand homes in Shortstown, are being denied the same services that are actively being offered to others? Is there a specific policy or resource allocation issue that differentiates our community's needs from those advertised services?"

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor did not have an answer for Cllr Coombs.

In response, Cllr Coombs asked a follow up question. He said “I must express my profound disappointment and frustration. As volunteers committed to Shortstown, the Group stepped up to manage estate services, expecting cooperation and support from the council, especially considering its efforts to expand commercial services for revenue generation.

“Instead, faced with the council's inability to provide the promised services, the Group have been compelled to seek alternative providers to ensure residents receive the necessary services at a fair cost. This contradiction between the council's publicised services and its actual response to our community's needs is not only disheartening but also undermines the trust and collaborative spirit essential for community development.

“What immediate steps will be taken to ensure that communities like Shortstown are not left to fend for themselves and will you continue to advertise services the Council doesn’t seem to have the capacity to provide?”

The Mayor couldn’t answer again and the Deputy Mayor said he will investigate further.

After the meeting, Cllr Coombs said “I’m very concerned about this situation. Not only have the Council forced the group to find other providers for the commercial services, but it also seems like a waste of tax payer money if the Council are advertising for services they don’t have the capacity to provide. This could be a fatal flaw in any future Budget proposal that relies on generating extra revenue from selling Council services to organisations.”