Salford Council last year had over two hundred people complaining about barking dogs and other annoying animals. Now, residents phoning the Council's call centre to ask for help will be told to `take their own action'. What form of action will this take – A shotgun? A punch-up? A call to the local gangster?
No. Callers will be sent details on how they can take legal action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which everyone knows is expensive, takes months and is virtually impossible to secure a positive verdict. Shotguns, punch-ups and big mates as an option is a lot quicker.
The Wild West Salford charter was ratified yesterday by the Council's Lead Member for the Environment, Councillor Ray Mashiter, as part of staff cuts (1.5 posts axed) to the Environmental Protection Team.
As a result, Salford Council will no longer deal with `neighbour from hell' nuisances like D.I.Y. noise (unless it's been ongoing for over a month!), what it calls `low frequency noise', noisy telephones and church bells (another punch in the face, vicar?), loud PA systems, those barking dogs and `nuisance from empty properties'.
The Council will also no longer "undertake any proactive work in relation to contaminated land" - which is shocking considering the amount of toxic contamination discovered in Ordsall recently, and investigated by residents working on Ordsall Undercover magazine.
Neither will the Environment team be involved in landlord licensing consultations, of which there were almost 500 last year.
Stressed out residents calling the Council to complain about everything from barking dogs to incessant drilling will now only be offered standard printed advice by e-mail or snail mail telling them to take their own action under the Environmental Protection Act. But Salford Council's own legal team has warned in a report to the Lead Member for the Environment that "The reduction in service provision could give rise to complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman that the City Council is not discharging its statutory duty to investigate complaints of nuisance". Which, the report adds, could lead to awards of "compensation in findings of maladministration".
Meanwhile, Salford Council doesn't have a problem with its Wild West charter. The report states that "A screening assessment has been undertaken which indicates the proposals will not have any significant impact".
Stressed out residents? Who cares? Expect a `significant impact' on the police and ambulance services…