THE decision to pull out of the Yorkshire in Bloom contest because of the sorry state of Huddersfield town centre has sparked one of the biggest-ever postbags at the Examiner.

Readers have said they are disgusted at the amount of litter and graffiti blighting the streets.

They are also disappointed by the state of green spaces and flowerbeds in the town.

Today, the Examiner is launching a campaign to clean up the town centre.

We want litter louts to take more pride in their town and think twice before dropping their trash, chewing gum and cigarette butts.

And we want Kirklees Council to demonstrate that it is prepared to show extra effort.

Our campaign calls for more widespread action to tackle trash and graffiti and for more cash to be pumped into maintaining green areas.

And, of course, YOU - the people of Huddersfield - have a part to play.

Report anything you see, take care to put your litter in the bin.

Our campaign is being backed by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.

Mr Sheerman said: "I am totally behind your campaign. I have been trying to persuade the powers that be to take these problems more seriously."

He said litter, nuisance and graffiti were the three top complaints made to him by the public.

He said: "Graffiti goes up and encourages more graffiti, so we have to clean it off immediately.

"The only way to stop it is to catch them and give them a long sentence cleaning it off. It is the worst advertisement. I want to see a graffiti-free Kirklees."

He added that there needed to be a strong drive by the council to discourage litter louts and graffiti artists.

He said: "They have got to take action now. We have not had any leadership or direction for a long time."

Huddersfield Town Centre Association is also supporting the Examiner campaign.

Assistant town centre manager Alison Campbell said: "We absolutely back a campaign like this.

"People are saying litter is a big problem and they are disappointed by it. It is obvious that most people don't like it and most don't drop litter.

"It is something one person can do, just not dropping litter. Some people may think it's only one crisp packet, but if 10,000 people think that, you get 10,000 bits of litter."

She has passed on people's comments to Kirklees Council about relocating little-used bins to busier areas.

She added that council action was needed to beat graffiti.

"Graffiti isn't something one member of the public can do something about."

The Town Centre Association is using cash from Kirklees Community Safety Partnership to clean graffiti off in areas not owned by the council.

It is also encouraging business owners in Huddersfield to get graffiti cleaned off private buildings.

Professional horticulturist and Examiner gardening correspondent Graham Porter is a driving force in the Examiner campaign.

He said his main concern was the green spaces in Kirklees, which were in a state of neglect.

Mr Porter, who is also a member of the Huddersfield in Bloom Committee, said: "Flowerbeds, shrubberies and trees look unkempt and it is down to probably 20 years of under-funding.

"All it needs is the council to wake up and put more money into it. As far as I am concerned, the stronger and longer the campaign, the more likely we are to have some sort of resolution which means next year we can enter the Yorkshire in Bloom."

EXAMINER COMMENT

HUDDERSFIELD town centre is not a disgrace. But it's not far off.

Food wrappers, graffiti, weeds. We've become almost immune to the signs of neglect. The state of the town seems to have crept up on many of us but have a good look and what you'll see is not pretty.

The shame of pulling out of the Yorkshire in Bloom competition should act as a wake-up call to us all.

Our postbag has been full of letters angry that we were put in that position and angry that our centre has slipped into such a state.

Today's Clean Up The Town campaign hopes to change that.

We want litter off the streets, the weeds cleared and the graffiti removed the minute it appears (catching the culprits might help as well). We want the flower beds and hanging baskets restored to their proper state.

Most of all we want to get back our sense of civic pride.

And that's down to the man in the street as much as the council, the police or the town centre bodies.

This town has a marvellous cultural heritage. It deserves a better fate.

So let's work together and make it happen.

LETTERS

Giving in too easily

ALTHOUGH I am no supporter of graffiti "artists" and litter droppers, I feel pulling out of Yorkshire in Bloom can hardly be blamed entirely on them.

I agree with Graham Porter (Examiner, July 18) when he says the council must show more commitment to the visual environment.

I also agree with the police chief who would like to see graffiti removed instantly - though a few more officers on the beat might help too!

But the town centre has been scruffy for some time - especially with cigarette ends and chewing gum.

Clr Payne announced fines for litter- dropping some time ago, but I haven't heard of any. There should be some, and they should be well publicised. Also, what about more commitment from the Parks Department, or is it Leisure Services?

The hanging baskets were only put up very recently, shrub beds around the town centre are often littered and overgrown. And what about bedding plants on roundabouts - other towns can do it - and I don't just mean Harrogate.

Take a look at Brighouse; they try very hard. I notice attractive roundabouts in many areas - but not here.

The judges would have to drive into town to judge, passing these and taking note.

Hanging baskets alone would not win a competition, despite some excellent efforts, such as the Huddersfield Hotel.

It would be nice to think that a massive clean-up operation would take place - to benefit all and shame the litter-droppers. Maybe then Huddersfield could enter the competition with some hope and pride.

HUDDERSFIELD BORN AND BRED

Restore lost pride

AFTER reading the Examiner on July 18 I was compelled to write regarding the front page article on the state of our town centre.

The appearance of our area has worsened since the introduction of a £12 charge for removing household furniture and garden waste and bringing in permits to use council tips.

Our town centre and outlying areas are becoming havens for litter, graffiti and fly-tipping. Some people will try to avoid paying a large charge for a previously free service and most people have not got their tip permit.

Those in charge of the council should have realised that fly-tipping was going to escalate. We are now familiar with the Lib Dem's policy to encourage litter, graffiti and fly-tipping. Please can another party restore pride in our town and remove the current incumbents from the town hall?

D HARVEY

Birkby

***

Another let-down

I WAS very disappointed to read that Huddersfield will not enter for this year's Britain in Bloom competition. This must be the first time our town has withdrawn at a late stage.

I was even more upset to read that the reasons are because our Liberal Democrat council have not been able to keep up with sweeping litter and removing graffiti.

Another let-down by the council.

Name and address supplied

***  

Road sweeper blues

I AM not surprised that Huddersfield does not stand a chance of winning the Britain in Bloom competition.

Everywhere you care to look there is litter, cigarette stubs, cans, takeaway cartons etc.

Can't someone at the council sort this mess or is it going to get much worse now the Liberal Democrats run the council?

We pay massive taxes and expect a proper service from the council. In my own area we have not seen a road sweeper for three years.

TAXPAYER

Fartown

***

Page 7 - More Letters - and an opportunity to Have Your Say

An essential failing

I AM ashamed to walk around the town centre. Like many folk we see graffiti-covered buildings, litter, plastic cups, tins cans and chewing gum strewn everywhere.

Massive taxes normally means good services - but not from this council.

Now, we have to pay for getting rid of old worn-out furniture or broken-down fridges. Doesn't this Liberal Democrat council realise this is an essential public service? Stop wasting money on silly ideas and get rid of this fly-tipping and litter.

The council should get its act together, because Huddersfield folk won't stand for this much longer.

DISAPPOINTED

QUARMBY

***

Verging on neglect

I CAN fully endorse Graham Porter's views regards the neglect of the flowerbeds and traffic islands around the town.

On passing through Aspley to Almondbury while stationery at the traffic lights to go up Somerset Road one sees the flowerbeds in the centre islands are full of weeds, litter and obvious neglect.

Waiting at the Wharf crossroads, the view is much the same. The paved islands are thick with dirt and discarded sandbags left from propping up some previous road sign. One wonders why quite a few of our council leaders who live in Almondbury and must pass this way never seem to notice it.

With the raised council taxes one just wonders where its all going, the neglect of Castle Hill, Kings mill and Folly Hall areas are much the same. Since living in the Almondbury area I have voted for the Liberal Democrats, now in charge, but I think now's the time for a change of vote.

Stephen Blackburn

Almondbury

***

Related stories and messageboards