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THE “disgusting state” of privately managed areas in the town centre has come under fire from local residents.
Avon Place shopping precinct, which is maintained by management company Bridger Bell, has been described as “disgusting” and a “complete tip” because of the amount of rubbish strewn on the ground and its overflowing bins – echoing similar concerns reported by Melksham News in 2018 and 2019.
The car park in front of the Original Factory Shop, located off the Market Place, has also been criticised for being a dumping ground for rubbish.
And residents are demanding that the management companies and local businesses take more responsibility.
“I was shocked at the amount of rubbish that I saw in Avon Place and around the side of the factory shop building,” said one local resident who volunteered for a recent Town Tidy day. “Yes, people need to take responsibility for disposing of their litter in a responsible manner – but these management companies and businesses also need to take more responsibility and have more pride in their appearance.”
In response to the concerns, Bridger Bell has explained that Avon Place is cleaned three times a week, and they are reluctant to increase the frequency as it would increase costs for retail tenants.
And the Original Factory Shop has told Melksham News that they are “committed to being a considerate neighbour” and regularly clean their car park. And they have explained that the rubbish highlighted by the recent Town Tidy volunteer belongs to the flats opposite their store.
But the debate about who is responsible for keeping the town tidy has sparked an idea for Melksham Town Council’s clerk, Linda Roberts, who has suggested that more could be done to encourage all businesses in the town centre to take more pride in the town’s appearance.
“I totally agree that there should be something in place in privately-managed areas regarding litter and their general appearance,” she told Melksham News. “I am surprised there is no service level agreement amongst the retailers in these areas that would mean they all pay towards litter collection and the general appearance and cleanliness of the precinct.
“Yesterday at the Town Tidy day (11th July) it got me thinking about having a town-wide push to encourage retailers to take responsibility for their frontages, a bit like the Turkish barbers already do, and something you see a lot of abroad.
“A ‘Proud of our Town’ initiative – if they all kept their entrances and front windows clean, that would make a huge difference.”
In response to the recent complaints, the statement from Bridger Bell, which manages the Avon Place precinct, said in full, “The cleaners attend 3 times a week presently on Monday, Wednesday and Friday around 9am.
“The problem here seems mainly to be a group of people who are recently gathering at nights/early mornings and using the benches. The centre is open of course, so not closed at night.
“We can increase the cleaning frequency, but that will cost the retail tenants more ultimately, and I hesitate to increase charges particularly after the fragile recovery of retail after Covid. I can ask the council/police to assist, but I am not aware of any laws being broken.”
The statement from the Original Factory Shop said in full, “At The Original Factory Shop, we are committed to being a considerate neighbour to the local community and regularly clean our car park.
“The rubbish that the Town Tidy team have bought to our attention belongs to the flats opposite our store, and we have asked the authorities who are responsible for maintaining this space to take steps to better stop this happening in the future.”