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Nine Staff Clean City Centre Nights: Rotas Revealed

Jonathan Schofield wonders whether the provision for city cleaning adds up

Written by . Published on August 2nd 2013.

Nine Staff Clean City Centre Nights: Rotas Revealed

LAST WEEK we published a story called Mucky Manchester about the state of the streets in the city we love. To say it received a lot of reaction is putting it mildly.

The city centre has come a long way, it has become an excellent destination for visitors, a great place to live and work, but how long can Manchester wait for such a basic, ostensibly simple aspect of civic life as street cleanliness and litter collection to improve? 

In the story we quoted the council on how they were changing rotas in response to the problem of litter clearance. 

Now we have the details.

Councillor Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council's executive member for neighbourhood services, told Confidential: “Under the new rotas, we now have members of the twelve strong night shift team working between midnight and 7.30am on weekend nights, and between 10.30-6am on weekday nights.

"Manchester is a city visited by half a million people every week, with a vibrant and growing night time economy, and while we will be closely monitoring the success of the new rotas, this is only one aspect of dealing with the issues in the city centre. We have also just purchased some additional bins and these will be going out into areas of high footfall already identified as needing more bins over the next few weeks.

"Changing peoples attitude and behaviour in the city remains important for all of us, particularly where resources are limited and we are planning a long term campaign to raise people’s awareness, challenge their behaviour and encourage a more responsible attitude.

“We look forward to working closely with Manchester Confidential and its readers on this project which is very important, both to ourselves and the city’s residents, visitors and businesses.”

And as Manchester's most read city centre based magazine we'll of course be very willing to help.

But there is a problem with the shift team working through the night cleaning the streets.

It's very very small. 

The twelve strong team means effectively there are never more than nine people out cleaning the city centre.

Here are some rough (back-of-a-fag-packet carelessly discarded in the street) figures.

If there are 500,000 people coming in every week then that makes an average of just under 71,500 people per day. 

That's an average figure.

We know from previous figures that on weekend nights, festival occasions, big matches and gigs this figure can bloat to upwards of 100,000 people.

No wonder the litter piles up.

Worse than that no wonder the litter spreads from overflowing bins across streets and down alleys.

Sir Richard Leese, the council leader, has on many occasions talked of how the city centre is the economic heart of the region.

Of course it is. The region whithers without it.

How long was it before this was cleaned up?

How long was it before this was cleaned up?

There are many ways the city centre can prosper and attract investment and that includes attention to detail, getting the little things right. Getting the little things right, in the end, contributes to jobs.

The council, to be fair, has made it clear that the new rotas are just part of a package of changes that are going to be introduced over the next year or so.

We all have to acknowledge that the Council has had to implement swingeing government cuts and clearly went too far in this area - which they now recognise - so are now readjusting and reprioritising. 


But this problem is a problem right now.

The city centre has come a long way, it has become an excellent destination for visitors, a great place to live and work, but how long can Manchester wait for such a basic, ostensibly simple aspect of civic life as street cleanliness and litter collection to improve? 

Whenever you walk into a dirty unkempt house you notice it. Whenever you see a person who isn't looking after themselves you notice it. Having just nine people, at any one time during the night cleaning the streets means the attention to detail when it comes to presenting a clean face must inevitably fail. Do we really want to be the dirty city of the North?

It looks unlikely given the numbers coming into the city that these new rotas will significantly ease Manchester's city centre cleanliness. Of course Manchester Confidential and all our readers would love to see it work.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

Messy and overflowing


Messy and overflowing


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32 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Margaret MorrisAugust 2nd 2013.

Why can't people take rubbish home?

LesleyAugust 2nd 2013.

Our city is filthy. There is no other way to describe it. And with only 9 workers cleaning up it's not surprising. We are such a successful city in terms of events, festivals etc. Am I naive but it has to be counterproductive to leave our streets in this filthy state. Liverpool is generally cleaner. How do they manage it?

Mum And Dad XAugust 2nd 2013.

Extend the traffic wardens job to fine the lazy couldn't care less litter droppers, we know there are fines for dropping litter but who enforces them? Could result in More revenue all round to provide street cleaners and power washers for our filthy streets. Please come to Bury and learn a few lessons in putting pride back into having a clean environment. The Town has been entering the Large Town in Bloom Competition for several years and has now won it seven years on the run. The town has "Blossomed" as it is all aspects that are judged, Parks Streets and all those hidden eyesores and it has been worth the outlay the Council have to contribute. We need some high profile footballers doing some community service helping the few street cleaners we have and to show with two great football teams we should be proud to show off our City!!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Alex24August 2nd 2013.

On the spot fines will only work if police officers in the centre are tasked with this. Also don't really think a bit of PR with footballers will make any difference in the long-term. Personally I'm surprised the council have the cheek to blame this on cuts given how resources are allocated even in 2013. If the economy continues to improve as at present I wouldn't have a lot of faith in them to improve the situation without public intervention. As others have said, basic presentation is one of the most basic things any aspiring city has to get right. The answer I feel is a few more cleaning staff, rigorous on the spot-fines by the police to help fund this and more bins. Most important though is making sure the place is spotless by the morning - I suspect a lot of casual litterers are encouraged to chuck something in a rubbish pile on the pavement if it is there at 8am.

Mum And Dad XAugust 3rd 2013.

Quite agree, we visit Spain yearly and they have still managed to keep the streets CLEAN despite having more money worries than Manchester.

Richard DawsonAugust 2nd 2013.

Never mind traffic wardens imposing fines on those who drop litter, how about traffic wardens picking up and collecting litter? Why is it that we have only 9 people cleaning our streets and yet hundreds issuing tickets to cars?

Reader XxxAugust 3rd 2013.

How about litter being collected and recycled afterwards? That is how is done in London. London Council is charged on litter amounts that ends up in landfill so they have an active interest to recycle as much of it as possible. Can we learn from this in Manchester?

Reader XxxAugust 3rd 2013.

But True, I agree with the previous comments, Presentation of a City is Basic and if it can`t be met, it results in embarrassment and disappointment. My friends and family could not believe their eyes when they were over recently... Can we improve on the basics Council?

Reader XxxAugust 3rd 2013.

Forgot to mention that when my friends & family were over, we escaped from Manchester to Chester on the train! Chester met their expectations!

TrevorgAugust 4th 2013.

It's just embarrassing and when such good work has been done as well, such as with Dig the City and all the events...

ZiggyAugust 4th 2013.

The council needs to make this a top priority. I've just walked a friend across town this morning and it looks terrible.

E GilbertAugust 4th 2013.

Resource should be redirected because as the article says these seemingly small problems undermine the excellent summer of events we've had in the city

Mick PAugust 4th 2013.

More people needed. People can be dirty and throw litter but Manchester is no different from other cities in that. Clearly this is a policy problem not one of resource.

AnonymousAugust 4th 2013.

Why is the town hall leader never put on the spot over this (and many other) issue? He seems rarely interviewed and must feel totally unaccountable. The MEN, for instance, is always lambasting the elected mayor of Salford, but dare not say a word against Sir Richard. Wonder if this is all basically because MCC effectively has no opposition?

DavidAugust 4th 2013.

Consider how many people Manchester Council employs.I believe it is something like 19,000, and then consider how many they employ on street cleaning in the city centre,and then you see how much importance they give to it.

CatAugust 5th 2013.

There are quite a number of homeless people begging for money on the city streets, why not involve them and give something back (safe place for the night, food, somewhere to wash)

AnonymousAugust 5th 2013.

If there are nine people cleaning the streets at night then there'll probably be another 20 admin and managerial town hall staff on amenable 9-5 hours telling them how to do the cleaning.

MGSAugust 5th 2013.

You often notice dedicated McDonald's litter-picker staff clearing rubbish up from around oxofrd street. Not sure how wide-spread this us, but surely this type of arrangement could have legs? If we are going to have the same-old high-street swallowing brands dominating every corner of the city, we should perhaps place some more practical responsibilities on them in terms of waste management and environmental health. Place requirements on yer sainsburys, yer tescos, yer McDs, yer Subways to take practical steps... or better yet, encourage them to do it off their own backs. It might even go some-way to addressing the significant fall in employment generation brought about from the insistent march towards complete self-service stores.

Brian GarnerAugust 5th 2013.

It took the authorities 2 days to remove the mounds of rubbish from Sackville Gardens, one of this city's few postage stamp sized areas of greenery, after the Sparkle weekend in the Village. I hope that the area is attended to rather more promptly after Pride Weekend at the end of this month.

1 Response: Reply To This...
JoanAugust 6th 2013.

I understand Sparkle had made their own arrangements for cleaning Sackville Park, but they appear to have fallen through. I think the post-Pride clean-up is well-rehearsed.

M5 NomadAugust 6th 2013.

Or offenders on community service realistically, get em out there with a litter picker and high vis like other countries do.. it works, baffles me that this does not happen. Yes it is embarrasing to have the city so dirty but it also a bit of a health hazard in the making, especially in the summer.

Jill JillianAugust 6th 2013.

Councillor Priest neglects to inform us that these rota changes won't be comming into effect untill December

RuthAugust 6th 2013.

Considering the street cleaners are out all night, the northern quarter streets are a tip! There was a dead pigeon on the high street for a week. Broken glass and hundreds of fag ends standard. I don't know what the street cleaners actually do all night long, there seems no change from night to morning!

Mum And Dad XAugust 8th 2013.

Has anyone seen street cleaners in the Daytime?

Poster BoyAugust 14th 2013.

Anyone else deafened by the silence of the usual (political) candidates who frequently comment on ManCon?...

JoanAugust 15th 2013.

If you mean me,PB, I'm on a short break in Edinburgh. They have litter here too. I agree that parts of our city have had problems this summer. There's also been some great work done by staff across the different teams. New rotas are in place and Kev and I are due an update briefing before the month's out.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Poster BoyAugust 15th 2013.

"Updates", "briefings" "great work...across different teams", blah, blah, blah. What is your opinion? What do you think should be done? What is your solution?

JoanAugust 16th 2013.

There's new rotas in place and some staff have changed roles. I think we need to see how it's working rather than jump to conclusions too rapidly.

AnonymousAugust 16th 2013.

Have the council also given up emptying bins generally in the northern quarter?

1 Response: Reply To This...
JoanAugust 16th 2013.

Collections should occur regularly. If not please report to MCC via the website, or email me cllr.j.davies@manchester.com

espoirAugust 27th 2013.

Now we know, the Rotas only start at 22h30 or midnight so no wonder the city is so filthy in the evenings and that creates an atmosphere of disorder. More incompetence from Howard Bernstein, no wonder he goes home by taxi, he should try walking across the city at 8 or 9 pm, try Lever Street for example. I agree Liverpool is much cleaner. There are hardly any bins in Manchester and many got replaced by those Magazine and Newspaper bins, a stupid move. Please sack Howard Bernstein, he is the worst, can't get the simple things right. Any other Chief Executive would see it and put permanent plans in place not some stupid Alice Keys concert for £400k while the city is filthy. Please new management required desperately.

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