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Litter, dog waste and drugs - biggest concerns in West Berkshire

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Bins for litter and dog waste are the things most people in West Berkshire would like to see improved.

And they cited rubbish lying around as a ‘very big problem’.

“Packaging, coffee cups, unwanted food and drink from local takeaways all discarded on footpaths and thrown in hedgerows are annoying.” said a respondent to a council survey.

“More dog waste bins are needed and regular emptying of bins,” said another.

Nearly a third of residents said that people using or dealing drugs was also a big problem.

“I don’t go into Pangbourne at night anymore as I don’t feel safe,” said one respondent. “Drug dealing, drunkenness and rowdy behaviour is rife!

“More and more there is evidence of drug dealing and substance abuse. It has become visible on the streets and is influencing younger people.”

The council surveyed around 1,250 people – just under one per cent of the district’s population – to find out what people think of them. Five thousand were asked to take part.

Most said recycling, planning and support for communities needed to be improved and of those asked, most said the reason for them contacting the council was about waste.

The council said its waste officers have increased the monitoring across the district.

Eighty nine per cent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the area as a place to live.

Those with children are likely to be more satisfied with the area compared to those without children.

Only a third spoke positively about the council, although two thirds were satisfied by the way things are run. Men less so than women.

The sample survey people were split into categories, ranging from the healthy and wealthy, those on the up, those ticking over nicely, the financially stretched and those in deprivation.

But those aged 16-24 were under represented – with the biggest cohort in the 65-74 age group.

Just over half of the younger (under 34) age group were significantly more likely to feel that they could not influence decisions, compared to those aged between 45-54.

People living in the wealthy areas felt that their local area was a place where people pulled together. Less than half that number in poorer areas agreed.

Around 30 per cent of people volunteered in the last year.

Residents living in the Lambourn ward were more likely to have said that ‘rubbish or litter lying around’ (83 per cent), ‘people using or dealing drugs’ (79 per cent) and ‘vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property or vehicles’ (36 per cent) were a problem compared to the other wards.

Residents living in the Theale ward were more likely to have said that ‘people being drunk or rowdy in public places’ (29 per cent) and ‘noisy neighbours or loud parties’ (36 per cent) were a problem compared to other wards.

Councillor Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen), leader of West Berkshire Council, said: “The information that residents have given us will help us to reflect their priorities in our plans for the coming five years. Since we received the results we’ve started responding to them, but there is more that we want to do and this will be reflected in our longer-term strategy. I want to thank everyone who completed the survey and their views with us.

“The survey results will be used more widely than influencing the new strategy. We will be looking at how we can enhance our communication and engagement with under-represented groups and to further improve how we put the residents at the heart of all that we do.”

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