The state of roads and town centres is a regular source of complaints for Northumberland County Council, even more so during the coronavirus pandemic when staffing issues and the weather have combined to pile up problems for workers.
But opposition councillors have insisted this should not be used to call for members of the public to pick up the workload.
“Considering residents pay council tax, and in Ashington we pay for enhanced services as well, is that really the message that we want to be putting out?,” said Labour’s Cllr Caroline Ball.
“Yes, we’ve had a perfect storm this year with weather conditions, but residents don’t want to hear that – what’s our plan for the rest of this year?
“There’s still weeds and mess across the towns [and] it’s going to happen again and again and again and we need to get a hold on it now.”
Cllr Ball was following up on comments made earlier in the week at the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council.
At the meeting, committee chairman Cllr John Beynon suggested the local authority should “encourage shopkeepers to re-sweep outside their own shops” in Morpeth to keep the town tidy.
Cllr Ball was speaking at the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council.
Responding to Cllr Ball, Paul Jones, the county council’s director of local services and housing told the meeting: “I think we always want communities to take pride and ownership in the location in which they live.
“That’s something we’re trying to engender and most communities have significant pride in theirs.
“That isn’t a replacement for the county council’s activity, it’s in addition and in support of the county council activity, but the more people that take that active involvement, the better it is for everybody, and we will continue to promote and encourage people to do that.”
Cllr Beynon’s suggestion was supported by Cllr Eileen Cartie, however, who added: “It’s not just always up to the council to keep everywhere clean, it’s up to every single individual.”