Homeowners who allow filth and rubbish to blight front gardens will be targeted by Southend Council in a new crackdown.

The council is piloting a new scheme in which it will give landlords and homeowners just over a month to clear up overgrown and rubbish-filled gardens, or its own officers will clear up the mess then bill the offenders.

Landlords deny the new measures are too harsh, claiming theywill “back the council 1,000 per cent”, with the pilot well underway in the Victoria ward of the town.

Independent Ron Woodley, leader of Southend Council, said: “Landlords have to have some responsibility to the people of the town and if they do not, we will take that responsibility from them.

“We want visitors to come to the town and say “wow, what a lovely place Southend is”.

It’s not harsh, it’s about having some responsibility.”

The council is currently targeting four town centre streets – Tudor Road, North Road, Avebury Road, and Salisbury Road, and wrote to residents asking them to clean up their foliage within seven days.

Wardens then visited the properties, and the 15 who had not tidied up were served with 28 day notices. If they still fail to comply then the council will go in and clean up the gardens and bill the homeowners.

It forms part of bigger proposals that are currently being worked up to make Southend a tidier place.

Independent Martin Terry, cabinet member for waste, said: “It’s only fair for stakeholders who take pride in their homes to live on clean streets.

“Messy gardens drag the whole street down and the whole town down. It is a case of giving landlords a prod.”

Mr Terry added that the likes of hugely overgrown gardens, plus front lawns that have litter, household items, and other waste building up.

Judith Codarin, who runs several shared houses in Southend and is the secretary of the South East Alliance of Landlords, Agents and Residents said: “I would back the council 1,000 per cent on this.

“This is a major issue for people in the town and as a resident myself I suffer from awful, untidy and thoughtless neighbours and landlords “It’s part of landlords’ marketing. It’s important to preserve the town for future generations otherwise we’ll be walking around knee-high in rubbish.”

How it works

THE council’s environmental care team will target gardens it feels are too messy, and will write to the residents asking them to clean up their gardens within seven days.

After a week the team will go back and assess the situation. If the garden hasn’t been cleared the team will issue a notice under the Environmental Protection Act (section 92A) ordering it be cleared up within 28 days.

At this point the council will also include a leaflet about its private sector housing team, for occupiers that rent and are perhaps having a problem with their landlord who may have caused the mess themselves.

If no mess has been cleaned up within 28 days, the council will clear the mess and bill the homeowner.

The council is piloting this in the town centre but wants to introduce it across the whole borough in time.


A messy garden in Tudor Road

Getting tough with messy residents is just one of several ideas being put forward to try and make Southend a tidier place.

Officers and cabinet members are working on policies to go before Southend Council’s cabinet in the spring.

Independent Ron Woodley says that the new proposals will be called the ‘Southend green and clean policy’.

He said: “I want people to have pride in Southend and I want people who live here to be proud to live in a town that looks clean.

“It will involve planting trees, parks maintenance, cliffs stabilisation, things like that.”