Viewpoint: Cllr Steven Smithson, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services

“Being the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services has been a whirlwind ride so far, filled with much progress already toward ensuring the quality of Hyndburn’s local environments is the best that it can be.

“In my new role on Hyndburn Council’s Cabinet, one of my leading priorities is to work toward cleaning up our Borough and I am pleased to announce that we at the Council have already taken great strides in this area. From the start of my time on the Cabinet in May to the beginning of August, over 45 Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued, as well as over 900 S46 warning letters. I want to remind all residents that there are hefty fines for flytipping waste, and this ongoing Council action demonstrates our commitment to enforcing these consequences in service of shaping a cleaner, healthier Borough.

“The move to introduce weekend burial services was one that I was proud to support on behalf of all the residents who have come forward over the years to ask for this. Alongside our Cemetery Officers and local ward councillors, I would like to thank the local community for making these proposed plans a possibility. I am certain that this will be of huge benefit to Hyndburn, especially in conjunction with the much-needed modernisation works at Accrington Cemetery and Crematorium depot to remove outdated facilities in favour of more energy-efficient alternatives.

“Providing Hyndburn with an abundance of natural spaces that are freely available and accessible is of the utmost importance to both myself and the Council at large. These spaces are crucial for our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, providing hubs of activity and community that everyone – regardless of their background – can enjoy. Our continued commitment to funding the ongoing maintenance and development of these spaces around the Borough cannot be denied, with funding already being assigned to the rejuvenation of several parks around the Borough this year, including Mercer Park, Milton Close Park and Knuzden Recreation Ground.

“The importance of access to free, high-quality green space for resident health and wellbeing cannot be understated and, with that in mind, the renewal of Hyndburn’s 10 Green Flag Award status for another year was a wonderful cause for celebration and one that I am exceptionally proud to have been able to contribute in a way. The biggest thanks must be extended to the many years of excellent park management by Council officers and volunteers, as well as to previous Parks portfolio holders for their efforts to preserve and develop these spaces.

“It has been fantastic, in particular, to see so many people of all ages making the most of the brand-new artificial cricket wicket lain at Bullough Park this summer. This newly revamped facility provides a full-sized space for locals to play and practice after calls from residents for new sporting equipment. The pitch is free for everyone to use which was important to us as we want this to be a facility that all can access, evoking the sense of the community and belonging that is so often associated with team sports.

“I have also had the real pleasure of seeing residents making the most of these community spaces through several of Let’s Move Hyndburn’s free family park events since I took up my Cabinet position. Having attended the events at Mercer Park, Milnshaw Park, and Lowerfold Park over the summer months, I must say that it is just fantastic to see so many young families come together to enjoy the facilities locally available to them.

“In keeping with community-use of our local environment, it was – and continues to be – important to me to encourage residents to make use of facilities like the newly renovated tennis courts at Oak Hill Park, Accrington. Having undergone a £48,000 renovation to improve the facility, funded by the UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation, this move will help to benefit locals within the Borough by providing vital opportunities for children and adults to get active, regardless of ability and background.

“Finally, it is wonderful to be able to support Council members and officers in their ongoing collaborative endeavours to bring about tangible environmental action. The shift from diesel to HVO (Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil) this year marked a major step toward our aim of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, slashing our current vehicle CO2 emissions by 90%. I am fully committed to pushing more measures like this as I firmly believe we can help to transform Hyndburn into a cleaner, greener, and healthier place to live in.”