Surprise pot of funding buys electric sweeper and litter picking equipment

Street litter

Street litter - Credit: Getty Images/Zoonar RF

The district council was given £25,000 in funding to spend on cleaning high streets – but had less than two weeks to spend it.

The funding was given to East Devon District Council (EDDC) as part of the Government’s ‘Plan for the High Street’ which was announced in the Autumn Budget.

EDDC said it was notified about the funding on March 18 and the deadline to spend it was the end of the financial year (March 31), which gave EDDC 13 days to spend the money or loose it.

It used £4,000 of the funding to buy litter pickers and equipment for a range of community clean up organisations.

The remaining £20,000 was spent on an electric sweeper.

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An EDDC spokesman said: “This device is small enough to use along high street pathways and our intention is to use it with one of our team in conjunction with local clean up groups and town councils.

“We’ll focus the machine where these groups would like to do clean ups and in this way the fund will provide a lasting legacy.”

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In a March 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) sent a letter to town councils and authorities across the country announcing £9.75million would be given to help clean up the high streets and town centres.

In the letter, Rachel Fisher, deputy director of infrastructure and regeneration at the MHCLG said that the fund would increase pride in high streets, boost community cohesion and enhance social well-being.

A MHCLG spokesman said: “We recognise that this is a challenging time for many retailers on our high streets.

“That is why the government is taking action to support councils’ efforts to keep our high streets buzzing.

“This £9.75 million funding will give local authorities an opportunity to do more, with community-led approaches to street clean-ups.”

MHCLG suggested the grant could have been used on expanding community clean-ups already taking place in March and providing seed funding to resident groups so that they can carry out clean up activity on high streets and town centres.

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