RUBBISH collections have been made a priority as Brighton and Hove City Council deals with the coronavirus emergency.

At an urgent meeting of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou said a recruitment campaign is underway to keep the streets clean.

Councillor Pissaridou said Cityclean is recruiting temporary staff to keep up with refuse collections, as many staff are off sick.

She said refuse collection has the highest priority.

Missed collections will have to wait until the next scheduled day.

She confirmed the suspension of green waste collections.

The city’s two household waste sites in Hove and East Brighton are closed to protect staff.

Councillor Pissaridou said: “We have taken this decision to ensure the safety of the public and also our staff while following government guidelines on social distancing.

“With a very high number of people using the sites in recent days, the risk of the virus spreading has increased.”

More large refuse bins are going out to sites across the city.

Councillor Pissaridou said she hoped the closure would be temporary.

She said: “The situation is changing daily and we are doing our best.

“We ask for patience and understanding.”

The authority’s 24-hour traffic control room continues to operate throughout the crisis, and transport engineers will keep highways safe.

Bus services continue to operate on an adjusted timetable to help key workers get to work and home.

Passengers are asked to pay through a prepaid, mobile ticket, contactless card or use the correct fare where possible to protect bus drivers.

Councillor Pissaridou confirmed skate parks and playgrounds are closed in all city parks.

Litter picking is a priority in the parks, as is emptying the bins. Grass cutting is reduced.

Concerns were raised on Monday 23 March, as The Level skate park was full of teenagers.

Councillors asked Economy, Environment and Culture executive director Nick Hibberd to close the skate park.

However, the Prime Minister’s announcement for everyone to stay at home the same day overtook events.

People are still allowed to use the parks for walks and exercise with members of their own household.

Everyone must stay further than two metres away from other people, approximately the width of a car.

Green councillor Pete West thanked council officers for their “incredible service” to keep the city going.

He said: “I can see the strain they’re under. It does need to be appreciated as they carry a huge responsibility.

“People need to get with the programme and follow the orders the Prime Minister gave us. The clear instructions.

“I think he’s been right to take people with him on this.

“And give them the chance to show their level of responsibility. Clearly, some people don’t get it and need to be told.”

Councillor West said he appreciated the focus on refuse as food waste is in there but said recycling needs equal emphasis.

Conservative councillor Lee Wares also thanked council workers and went on to praise the public for “doing the right thing” during these difficult times.

He said: “As councillors, we will help keep the city running and provide guidance and support.

“As different parties, we battle on policies and things we might disagree on.

“Now, the three main parties are working very, very, closely together in a strong collaborative sense.

“We have parked our politics, and we are doing the best we can using all our skills and resources to come up with solutions to best serve our citizens at this difficult time.”