A 50 per cent cut to street sweeping is on hold in Lewisham until more research goes into its potential impact, potentially saving 40 jobs.  

Lewisham Council planned a cut of £823,000 to environmental services by reducing street cleaning from weekly to fortnightly on residential streets but deferred the decision at cabinet on Wednesday “pending a pilot to be undertaken”.  

If the cut does go ahead, the council estimates between 30 and 40 fulltime staff will be axed.  

But concerns raised by committee members have moved the council to defer the decision. 

The risks include a  “heavy build up of litter … to areas”, cleanliness standards being “significantly reduced”, fly-tipping going unreported for longer and the potential job loss of 40 workers.

According to council documents: “It has been suggested that this be achieved through a major restructuring of the service that would lead to the loss of around 30 to 40 fulltime staff (from a current headcount of 132 staff).  

“The Committee is concerned about the negative impact of this cut.  

“As previously stated, it is apprehensive about the progressive deterioration of the cleanliness of Lewisham’s streets – as well as the perception by residents of the Council’s ability to carry out its basic functions. 

“The Committee wants to know whether a balance can be found between making cuts to the service and maintaining a reasonable quality of provision.  

“It would welcome more detailed information about the potential for a complete reorganisation of the service – as well as the impact of making different levels of cuts on a sliding scale.   

“The Committee also wants to better understand the types (and cost) of mitigating actions that might be put in place to deal with the impact of this cut.  

“This includes – but is not limited to – the potential for using machinery and other innovations for responsive cleansing.” 

Committee members also suggested a campaign to encouraging better cleanliness in Lewisham’s streets. 

“It believes that this should incorporate support for schools to encourage and engage children and young people.  

“This campaign could also include work to encourage take away and fast food operations to keep the areas near their shops tidy,” according to the report.  

After deferring the cut, the council will engage in further research while also trialing the fortnightly sweeping to observe its impact on cleanliness.  

Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, said: “I propose we defer this cut at this time and look for further savings from that service area.”