PEOPLE could be asked to help clean streets and be charged to spend a penny in Southend, under new plans.

Southend Council is starting a consultation over plans for a new recycling, waste collection and street cleaning contract.

It is also considering charging people to use its public toilets.

The council hopes the plans could deliver value for money and savings, while maintaining a good service.

The consultation document states the council is looking at “working with volunteers to deliver elements of the service, such as street cleaning”.

The council caused controversy last year by asking volunteers to help run its library service.

But Tony Cox, councillor for transport, waste and public protection, said his department had no plans to have members of the public throwing black bags on to dustcarts.

He said: “We currently have Recycling Champions – people who encourage others to to recycle – and maybe we could expand that.

“The Tories haven’t done a bad job on the street scene in Southend. It’s just us looking to see if there are any ideas we haven’t thought about, is there anything people want?”

Volunteer involvement in keeping streets clean has also been seen in recent years through work by groups such as the Westborough Community Association who have cleared alleyways of hundreds of bags of rubbish.

However, David Webb, 38, the former chairman of the group, is sceptical about wider volunteering involvement.

The 38-year-old, of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff, said: “Alleyways are different because they aren’t the responsibility of the council. But even with that we found it very hard to get volunteers – we only had about three or four.

“Most people don’t see it as their responsibility, and if they pay their council tax why should they also clean streets? It would seem like cost-cutting.”

The consultation began yesterday and lasts until March 10.

Southend residents are invited to give their views at