An angry resident dumped a pile of rubbish at Sunderland Civic Centre in a protest over the state of his neighbourhood.
David Render set up a Facebook group - Washington in Decline - to highlight problems in the town and what local people claim is a lack of spending by Sunderland City Council.
The people of Washington don’t expect gold-plated pavements - what we do expect is that they are kept clean, that the litter bins are emptied and the rusty ones are replaced.David Render
But now he has taken his protest a step further, dumping a load of litter in the foyer of the council’s headquarters.
“The litter was all personally picked, so there was nothing hazardous,” he said.
“It was all clean and I made sure to go to an area where it would not cause any damage.
“We want to improve the place, not make it worse.”
Fifty-four-year-old David said he had been moved to act after growing increasingly frustrated with what he says is a lack of attention to the town by the civic centre.
“I have been arguing with Sunderland Council for the last six months about the litter all over the place,” he said.
“It has been getting worse and worse. The council just said there was no money.
“I said: ‘It is not that there is no money, it is what you are doing with the money - you are prioritising it all in a small area, instead of what you are supposed to do.’
“The people of Washington don’t expect gold-plated pavements - what we do expect is that they are kept clean, that the litter bins are emptied and the rusty ones are replaced.”
David set up the Facebook group after spotting a rat eating from a bin - “The bin had been overflowing for ten days,” he said - and says he has taken it upon himself to fix some of the town’s rusted waste bins: “Some of them took me three minutes with a bit WD40, but Sunderland Council has left them open for six months.
“I don’t expect Washington to get special treatment - I don’t even expect us to get fair treatment - I just want the place to be clean.”
Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio for City Services Coun Michael Mordey. said: “The council was aware that this incident may happen.
“Although we have the ability to take this matter further, it’s not something the council is proposing to do.
“We always try to engage with all residents wherever possible, rather than taking any punitive action.
“Therefore, the council is writing to this man in the hope of having a productive dialogue as an alternative to any formal action – as that is not in anyone’s interest.
“I would like to remind the man in question and all residents of the city that the situation we find ourselves in is a direct consequence of Government austerity measures.
“We have, as a council, for the last six years managed the cuts in our funding by reducing as much as we can in back office functions.
“However, despite the best efforts of council officers and elected members to protect frontline services, the impact of the latest round of Government imposed cuts means that there simply isn’t the money available to us to carry on as we did.
“I would urge all residents to find productive ways in which they can work with the council to make the city a better place to live, work and play – and to direct their anger towards the Government who are responsible for the situation we now find ourselves in.
“The council can only work with the resources available to it. When you have lost £240million since 2010 and projected to lose another £115million to 2020 that is going to have a significant impact on frontline services.
“The vast majority of residents take a pride in their city and dispose of rubbish correctly and I would like to take this opportunity to thank and praise those that do so.
“Unfortunately a small minority of people do not and all littering and rubbish makes our city look unsightly.
“If anyone has concerns they can report it by telephoning 0191 520 5550 or visiting our website sunderland.gov.uk”