It might sound like a quaint idea from a bygone era but one Leeds suburb now boasts its very own village caretaker – the only one in the city.
And the Roundhay ward councillors, who are funding the role, say Oakwood village caretaker Graham Watt could be the first of many.
Councillor Christine Macniven (Lab) said: “Early indications are that it’s a good thing and we would like to see it happening in other parts of the ward.”
Graham’s list of duties includes grass cutting, shop front clearing, repair reporting, leaf clearing and branch pruning.
But the 62-year-old prefers to see his role as “more about engendering a sense of community” – a role with “infinite possibilities”.
The original idea came from former ward councillor Val Kendal (Con), who felt the parade of shops looked shabby and needed someone to tidy them up.
Community-minded Graham was a founder member of the Friends of Gipton Woods 13 years ago and still clears and tidies the woodland as a volunteer.
He explained why the Oakwood role was made for him.
“To see a piece of paper on the floor offends me, so I go and pick it up – whereas other people might pass it by and moan.”
He works 10 hours a week and can often be found tidying the streets at 5am, when there’s less traffic.
And he doesn’t just collect rubbish, he also weighs it, “to provide Leeds City Council with some useful statistics”.
He has inspected all 98 roadside drains on his patch, and reported which are blocked. He’s on first-name terms with most traders and has cleaned barriers and junction boxes, something Councillor Macniven said the council would never have the resources to tackle.
“It’s little touches like this which make it feel so much nicer.”
But the former lorry driver and mental health nurse denies he’s a perfectionist, he said he has “an eye for detail – having an orderly public space appeals to me”.
The role is paid for through the Ward Based Initiative fund, which enables councillors to spend up to £10,000 each on ward improvements.