We visit the Birmingham neighbourhood where rats munch on kebabs dropped in the street

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Birmingham City Council officers are clamping down on residents who do not respect where they live

Rats munching on soggy pizza and strips of rotten kebab, and bags and bags of rock-hard plaster, rubble and soil that’s been dumped by landlords and tradesmen. We’re in the heart of Birmingham’s student district, Selly Oak to be more precise, as council officers clamp down on those not respecting where they live and work.

It’s a crisp Thursday afternoon and the council’s street-cleaning team have been out since the crack of dawn filling their wagon with fly-tipped rubbish. The van is jam-packed yet, just 24 hours earlier, it was bin collection day.

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“It’s takeaway boxes and stuff like that,” a council worker said of the amount of rubbish just left less than a yard away from people’s front doors. “It’s easy food for students plus you can’t get wheelie bins on the road because it’s narrow paths. They just dump the bags out into the little coves. There’s rats. It’s just constant. Another big [problem] is building materials being dumped everywhere; soil bags, rubble bags. Builders often dump whatever they’ve got left and go. Asbestos is a really big problem as well. It’s just left everywhere.”

We’re near the Aldi here and just up from The Goose pub on Dale Road and George Road. North Road is also a particular grime spot with student digs here bang opposite around a dozen or so fast-food joints.

Birmingham City Council’s Love Your Streets team have teamed up with Birmingham’s Guild of Students, the union that looks after those studying in the city, for an all-out action day to remind those in Selly Oak to clean up their act. 

The LDRS spent an hour with the Love Your Streets team in Selly Oak with the state of the streets becoming a real concernThe LDRS spent an hour with the Love Your Streets team in Selly Oak with the state of the streets becoming a real concern
The LDRS spent an hour with the Love Your Streets team in Selly Oak with the state of the streets becoming a real concern | LDRS

Detailing the problem the council faces in this particular area of the city, Selena Ellis, of the council’s Love Your Streets programme, said: “This is a mixed area of tenants of students and some residents. It’s difficult to maintain [standards] because you’ve got a lot of people coming and going and people don’t have that type of commitment to respect the area and dispose of their waste in the correct way.

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“Ideally, we want people to utilise the areas they have got to store their waste and put their rubbish out the day before collection day. We need people to have more positive behaviours when it comes to maintaining cleaner streets.

“We also have the mobile recycling centres visiting Selly Oak because students who don’t drive can’t venture over to the tip.

“If people didn’t know, it is an illegal offence to put fly tipping out on the streets. There’s all different things we see; old mattresses, building waste. We see a lot of skips that are also left for a long period of time which we have started to clamp down on.”

The LDRS spent an hour with the Love Your Streets team in Selly Oak with the state of the streets becoming a real concernThe LDRS spent an hour with the Love Your Streets team in Selly Oak with the state of the streets becoming a real concern
The LDRS spent an hour with the Love Your Streets team in Selly Oak with the state of the streets becoming a real concern | LDRS

As well as a crackdown on fly-tipped rubbish, the Guild of Students also rolled out its Junk Busters programme this week, a collaboration with the University of Birmingham to encourage youngsters to donate unwanted goods such as clothes and household items. To date, more than £181,000 has been raised for the British Heart Foundation thanks to this initiative.

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Dean Turner, from the Junk Busters team, commented: “Usually we run this in the summertime which aligns with the move in, move out period, but we’re doing extra collections over the Christmas period as well given the amount of students we have moving back home for the holidays. It’s really helped clean up the streets in Selly Oak – people can donate their old clothes to us, as opposed to just dumping them.”

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