MEMBERS of Skipton Town Council have taken Craven Council to task over the ‘shocking’ state of the town.

Areas of Skipton were a disgrace with dumped mattresses, graffiti, abandoned cars and overfilled wheeled bins, spewing out rubbish, said deputy mayor, Darren Shaw and fellow town councillor, David Painter.

In a joint presentation to Craven Council’s policy committee, the town councillors compared Skipton to Earby and Barnoldswick, pointing out how neighbouring Pendle Council appeared to be doing a much better job.

Historic, cobbled streets in Pendle appeared to be regularly cleaned, there was no dog mess and moss was removed, they pointed out, whereas areas of Skipton were blighted with out of control fly-tipping. In Pendle, wheeled bins were kept tidily inside yards and not left to block accesses, or to look unsightly, with residents threatened with a fine if bins were left out, they said.

They called on the council to act and to enforce already existing legislation by warning people who failed to comply, to issue £60 fixed penalty notices and pursue legal proceedings against those who refused to pay fines.

The town councillors also suggested a civil enforcement officer, similar to parking enforcement, to monitor littering in the town.

Cllr Painter said he spent most of his spare time dealing with complaints of littering from residents and regularly reported them to Craven’s environmental health officer. There was also an issue with rubbish along the verges of the town’s bypass, which he described as ‘quite a shock’ to anyone driving along.

Cllr Shaw said Skipton had received accolades for being the best and happiest place to live in the country, and was the ‘Gateway to the Dales’, but there were some roads - such as Broughton Road, Middletown and Sawley Street - which appeared to have been forgotten.

“We are blighted by uncontrollable fly-tipping, wheelie bins overflowing, and offenders are left unpunished. It is really the impression we want to give,” he said.

The council could educate residents by means of newsletters, social media and on its website.

“It would keep the streets clean and tidy, which leads to a reduction in crime, and increased participation in wheeled bin and recycling will lead to an increase in recycling and reduction of waste ending up in landfill,” he said.

Cllr Painter added: “Once someone is fined, the word will spread. We do think Skipton is let down, and we think we could do better.”

In response, Cllr Richard Foster, council leader, said it did appear from the presentation, that Craven could do better, and thanked the councillors to bringing it to the authority’s notice.

Cllr Carl Lis, lead member for the environment, said it was not a problem exclusive to Skipton. Dog fouling, in particular, was an issue that had been ongoing for decades, he said and added that the council had recently decided to call in an outside company to help deal with littering as a whole.

The council did not need a policy, and it could issue fines if wheeled bins were not kept properly, if necessary; it had not issued any as yet, but perhaps it needed to re-visit that, he said.

The cleaning of road verges was due to start on April 6 and drivers were also urged to take their litter home, he said. The council had also been due to go into schools to educate children about littering, but that had been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.