Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Very determined" against litter?

The latest issue of Greenwich Time has just come through my door and I don't even have to open it to get a dry chuckle from it.

On the front page there's an article about Greggs the Bakers in Woolwich getting a telling off about litter in the street.

"We're very determined in our campaign against littering in our borough" says Councillor Maureen O'Mara.

Oh really?

Click here to see the state that the Council seem quite content to leave my street in.

Councillor O'Mare hopes that other companies in Greenwich "will take notice and make sure that they are not a part of the problem."

Can she widen her gaze to include the Council itself and in particular the Councillors for Charlton?

The new bin scheme is certainly a "part of the problem", as are my Councillors who have achieved nothing in over two months of contact.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rubbish on Repeat

Well the overflowing bins were emptied and the Council actually managed to get a nappy sack collection done this week, so all should be good.

Nope, the green bins at the top of the street are once again filling up with plastic rubbish sacks. As before it's the same house that's doing it.

After my last post Councillor Gary Parker responded again.

Regarding what to do with those residents who keep on putting the wrong rubbish out he had this to say:

Some work is being done regarding this but needs to be clarified, some work is currently being developed across departments in a number of services, including enforcement, but also includes advice and support on a number of environmental issues including waste collection.

Couple that up with his comment from about two weeks ago.

With enforcement action there are some legal issues and they often need clarification or legal advice.

So basically there's still nothing been done and they don't actually seem to know what they are going to do, they're still "developing" it.


Now maybe I'm naive from my years of working but whenever I've started work on any sort of a project one of the first questions that's raised is "OK, what happens if this goes wrong? What do we do to recover from it?"

With regards to the new bin scheme that never seems to have crossed the Councils mind and only now, four months into the system, are they beginning to wonder about it.

So the pattern for my road seems to be:

1) The street is filled with rubbish by the same people.
2) Either
a) A Councillor is needled into getting it cleaned up.
b) A residents reports it to Cleansweep and it's cleaned up.
3) Repeat from step 1.

Four months of the new scheme and two months of talking to my Councillors has not produced any change in that pattern.

For some reason I'm not very confident that we're going to see any change in it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Councillor Parker responds...

After I made my last post about the rubbish piling up in my road again I emailed Councillor Gary Parker about the issue.

Part of what I said to him was:
However once again it's the same people making the same mess on my road.

I've asked this before and never had any kind of a substantial answer, what is being done to address this? It would make such a difference to the area if those few persistent residents who continue to ignore the new bin scheme could be helped out to do so.

So what is being done to tackle the actual causes of this rather than just the week on week on week symptoms?

And now he's replied, which in the interest of fairness I should point out he is quite good at:

I am discussing your email with council officers, and will respond in due course, I am on holiday next week, so if I am not able to get all the issues clarified in the next couple of days ,it maybe a week or so till I get back to you, with enforcement action there are some legal issues and they often need clarification or legal advice

I may be reading too much in to it but it doesn't seem that the "legal issues" have been given any consideration until relatively recently, consider that the new scheme has been in place for nearly four months no and was "planned" (cough) for some time before that.

Well we shall see.

I've asked him if efforts have been made to contact the people causing the problems to see if they need any help before they go waving the legal stick around, we shall see what comes back...

Greenwich style bin schemes elsewhere...

The NewShopper reports that Bromley Council are looking into implementing a new rubbish collection scheme. It will be somewhat similar to Greenwich's in that recyclable and compostable waste will be taken weekly, other things bi-weekly.

There's been a bit of a lively discussion about it in the comments section and in the end Councillor Colin Smith of Bromley chipped in with his thoughts. One part of his comments was quite interesting....

"It certainly WONT be like the Greenwich scheme. That's precisely why we are watching, waiting and seeing how other Borough's progress their schemes first to ensure we avoid similar mistakes."

So not only do many Greenwich residents think the new rubbish scheme is a bit, well, rubbish but other local Council's and their residents think so too. Their Council have to explicitly state that what they're doing won't by anything like what Greenwich have done in order to try and reassure people.

Meanwhile Greenwich Council are happy to keep their heads stuck in the sand and the only official comments are to admit a few "teething problems".

Councillor Colin Smith has commented again about Greenwich:

"I'm loathe to criticise another Council, even one of a different political hue as every Council is moving in this direction and doing so as best they can, but we won't be using Greenwich's model."

He might be loathe to criticise but he is quite keen to once again point out that Bromley will not be copying Greenwich.

Our Council seems to be some sort of byword for doing the job badly. Well unless you believe Greenwich Time, in which case everything is peachy, oh yes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

And the rubbish came back...

It's been another very busy couple of weeks with me spending less and less time in Charlton, which may have been good for the Council.

I was hoping to find the time to highlight, once again, the mess at the top of Floyd Road. Well by the time I find some time to post about it some of it has actually been tidied up. There was a big blue wheely bin thing full of waste, some of which appeared to be commercial (fruit crates?). Well something happened and the blue bin has now gone. Which is good. So a big pat on the back to whoever made that happen.

However whoever shifted the blue bin ignored the state of the once again overspilling green bins next to them.

Yet another week and yet another wrong load of rubbish stuffed into the wrong bins and left behind by the bin men (understandably so).

This is what I'm faced with going up and down the road...

It's outside the same house as before so I'm guessing it's the same residents that keep on doing this.

When I wrote to my local Councillors and Jim Wintour, the Director of Neighbourhood Services, over 2 months ago I ended the letter by saying:

I write to you in the hope that you can take charge of the situation and get the streets around here cleaned up.

Furthermore I can only dream that you will make sure that measures are put in place to stop it happening week after week after week.

This is your ward, you are meant to be the ones who care for it, please prove to me that you do.

In my emails to Councillor Parker, the only one of my Councillors to give me any kind of a substantial response or dialogue, I've explicitly asked him "What has, or is, being done about enforcement of collection issues?". I've never had an answer.

The same people seem to keep doing the same thing week after week after week. I know who they are, the Council surely must know who they are. Why aren't they helping/sorting them out?

Now if I knew them I'd have a word, I've spoken to my immediate neighbours about some problems that we had with the new scheme and got them all sorted out. But I don't know those people and I don't see why I should have to walk up to strangers and ask them what their trouble with the Council's cunning plan is.

So I write here.

And I phone Cleansweep (it will be cleaned in 2-5 days, apparently).

And I email my Councillors.

And occasionally something gets done and the street is clean for a few days.

And that seems to be the way that things are going to stay.

Am I alone in thinking that that's really not good enough?

Oh, and there was another failed nappy collection...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What they filmed in Charlton...

A while ago I commented about some filming that I happened upon up at Charlton House (click here).

Well I've found out what it was, it's an advert for BBD HDTV.

If I've got my HTML right this should be it....

If not try clicking on the link below:

What is the solution to the rubbish problem?

TroubleBrother left a comment on my last post.

He raised some good and challenging points so I thought it worthwhile giving a proper response.

Yes I know it is certain people along the street making the mess. While I agree that my street seems to have more than it's fair share of them walking about the area does show that I'm not alone. Friends nearby also report similar problems, though again perhaps not at the same scale.

However these problems never happened under the old bin scheme. The council have introduced a new system with seemingly no thought given as to what to do, which I simply do not believe is the right thing to do. You can't introduce such a big shift in so a basic a service, a service that many of us just take foregranted, without planning for the problems that non-compliance will cause.

So yes it's wrong that people are doing what they're doing, but the Council should have "disaster recovery" plans in place.

Personally I feel that they should be talking to the residents who are doing this, some old fashioned human contact with someone popping around to see if they have a problem. In the end there should be a final recourse of taking their bins away and "punishing" them under some form of fly tipping legislation.

As for forming a group, well to be honest I wouldn't know where to begin. There have been a couple of "problems" with my immediate neighbours and the new bin scheme and I've spoken to them and it's been fine ever since. When it comes to people that I don't know, and bearing in mind those are the people who are so selfish/ignorant/stupid so as to keep on fouling the street week after week after week, I really feel unable to just go knocking on their door and to say "Oi! No!"

I do hope that I'm doing something a bit more constructive than just whinging. As I've said before it looks like my time in Charlton is drawing to a close and it's tempting to just say "Oh s*d it" and let the street look how the Council and certain residents are happy for it to do so. However I'm trying to not fall into the trap of not giving a damn about my area and resolved myself to do something, I hope that I am.

Friday, May 09, 2008

There's been a tidy up...

Councillor Parker emailed me in response to either my email or my last post. He said that he was dealing with the matter.

Well it looks like he has been good to his word and there has been a tidy up.
  • The car parking area has had the big pile of rubbish taken away and the chairs perched over the bins have gone as well.
  • Nappy sacks appear to have now been collected.
  • The bins at the top of the road have been emptied

The only slight niggle is that the wooden crate that was perched atop the bins is still there on the pavement and full of recyclable materials. Will the recycling bin men on Monday see it as there responsibility to take it? We shall see.

Anyhow this is a good start but it is not the solution.

Will the situation be allowed to develop again?

Have measures been taken to tackle the actual causes of the problem rather than just the symptoms?

Constantly reacting to rubbish in the streets isn't going to solve the problem. I shouldn't have to keep badgering my Councillors or doing silly charts about monkeys (though I must admit I've learned a lot about them now, which is nice) in order to keep the streets as clean as they were prior to the new bin scheme.

I want to believe that Councillor Parker and his colleagues really are on top of this, but four months into the new scheme and with no end to the problems in sight I've got my doubts.

Still fingers crossed.

Let's see if the Council really can deliver this time.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

2 months on, how effective are my Councillors?

Right, here we go, the rubbish situation....

During my travels Councillor Gary Parker emailed me again:

"I have been monitoring the situation and asked the Council to look at this situation again, re; enforcement of collection issues, they have promised to check on the situation and take appropriate action. I am sure you will let me know if there are still issues"

To open with isn't Councillor Parker a part of the Council? He's making it sound like it's some separate entity that he has words with now and again rather than something that I, somewhat foolishly, voted him on to.

And he's monitoring the situation is he? Well in that case then he's aware that the following photos show how my street looks today, indeed how I've seen it look for the past few days.

The car parking area between Floyd Road and the railway.
This is also the car parking area, those chairs have been there for about two months, I've got a photo to prove it (click here to see it).
The bins full of wrong and unemptied rubbish have once again reappeared at the top of the street. The drift from one side of the road to the other as the builders working opposite use them to seeming hold their gate shut.
Another week, another failure to collect nappies.

Now bear in mind that I wrote to my Councillors two months ago, and only the other day one of them personally emailed to tell me he was "monitoring the situation", how am I meant to feel?

This is the service and quality of life that two months of complaining, personal contact and assurance of action from the Council gives us.

I cannot see this in any other way than a complete failure of the Council and it's representatives to tackle the problem.

Councillor Parker I ask you what have you, as a part of the Council, done about "enforcement of collection issues"?

To any member of the Council that sees this, look at the photos above, how do you feel? If you feel that you can say anything slightly positive then come down to my road on a warm day and take a nice deep breath. If you can fight back the gag reflex and still be positive then you have my admiration, if not my respect.

I've given my local Councillors and the Director of Neighbourhood two months to try and crack this and they've patently failed. As soon as I get some more time I feel left with no option but to find some higher point to complain to.

London City Airport Campaign Group

I've been emailed regarding my post on the Council taking a stance on the increased flights from Heathrow but ignoring the far more local London City Airport's expansion.

It's a short email so I'll post it up in it's entirety:

Read your post on the above issue, very accurate in our opinion! I'm not sure if you saw (are are aware of our campaign blog) our blog post on the HACAN meeting and Cllr Alex Grant's input on the very same:

Anyhow the web site above is worth a look.

"Special" pre-sale for Narnia Premiere

I've just had a very helpful email letting me know that Greenwich Card holders can "take advantage of a special pre-sale before tickets go on sale on Friday 9 May" for the premiere of the new Narnia movie at the O2.

OK so maybe having an extra evening to buy tickets before the general public can is kind of "special", but how on earth are people going to take "advantage" of it if we're only told just before 5pm?

How many Greenwich Card holders are going to check their email this evening and be able to take advantage of this offer?

Did the O2 spring this on the Council at the last minute or is the Council's fault for giving us such short notice?

Good news for the potentially quite small number of Greenwich Card holders who will check their emails this evening, not so good news for the rest of them.

The Local Opposition

Verumi commented on my previous post on how the Council don't seem to care about the massive expansion of flights from the neighbouring London City Airport but do seem to have an interest in the more distant Heathrow.

"We have a council that is hypocritical and shameless. Lets hope the question is raised in chambers" he/she says.

Well we can hope, but it's not going to happen. We in Greenwich are as badly failed by the opposition as we are by the Council. They won't kick up a stink about this, well they haven't so far and by past form I can guess that they won't.


Conservative Councillor Nigel Fletcher surely knows what an opposition party is meant to do, he proudly proclaims that he's "writing a Doctoral thesis on parliamentary Opposition."

So therefore he must know that the role of the opposition is to, well, oppose.

So why the silence?

Well as I've said before I believe that the opposition see Greenwich as merely a step on to bigger and better things at Westminster. This Borough will never be Conservative no matter how badly the Council seem to treat us and they know it.

So I see it as either being the opposition simply not caring about Greenwich at all, or in a far more mercenary fashion they realise that making a noise will draw attention to themselves. That attention will then focus on their lack of action in tackling the Council and in making things better, which is the sort of attention they won't want, so they keep quiet.

Heading back to Concillor Fletcher for a moment you can see clearly where his emphasis is by looking at his blog.

Here's a summary of his posts so far this year:
National Government's Rubbish: 2
I'm David Cameron's Mate: 1
I'm Boris Johnson's Mate: 2
London Mayoral Election: 3
The Conservative's are great: 3
China's Bad: 2
Cutty Sark: 2
Charlton House: 1
Death of a Constituent: 1

So in total:
Non-Local Issues: 13
Local Issues: 4 (all in January, not one since)

We could give him half a point in that one of his "China is bad m'kay" posts takes a pop shot at some Greenwich Councillors who took a trip to China. However I contest that that's hardly a major local issue when you've got rubbish piling up in your street and thousands of extra planes going over your head.

Of the 4 posts about local issues not one of them is about anything of real substance, not one is about tackling the Council over it's policies. Yes we know it's bad the Cutty Sark caught fire, yes Charlton House does look nice and I agree it's sad that you lost a Constituent in a car crash. However is that really all you have to say about your ward?

Not one word about the tens of thousands of extra flights going right over our head from London City Airport and how the Council are ignoring it?

Nothing to say about the cuts in Council Services?

No interest in the new rubbish collection scheme and it's "head-in-the-sand" approach to problems and hygiene issues?

Latching himself onto Boris' band-wagon seems to be something that Nigel prefers to spend is time on. Since January the election for Mayor seems to have captured all of his attention.

So basically with our Opposition Councillors' eyes fixed on bigger political ponds than Greenwich don’t expect there to be any real comment on the genuine local issues they're supposed to care about.

In the interests of political neutrality I will be returning with a post taking some more shots at the Labour Councillor's that do in fact run our Borough as soon as I get some proper time to spend on it...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Heathrow has more of an impact on Greenwich than London City Airport?

Greenwich Time is usually worth a chuckle or two as the Council tries to spin it's way around various issues and attempts to make us feel like we're getting a good service.

The 16th of April issue (I said in my last post I've got a backlog of stuff I'm sorting out) provided a typical example.

A resident wrote in asking for support for a residents group objecting to the changes in the flight paths for Heathrow Airport which will, apparently, put far more planes over our heads. Which is all fair enough, however the Councils' response was far more interesting.

Apparently the Council did respond to the Heathrow consultation questioning the noise and air quality assumptions. They say they are monitoring developments to make sure their voice is heard "on this important issue".

Which is what a Council should be doing when you think about it.

It's a shame that they didn't show the same level of involvement when it came to London City Airport and planes flying several hundred feet, if that, over or heads rather than several thousand.

Councillor Peter Brooks is not only Greenwich's representative on the London City Airport Consultative Committee but also represents the people of Thamesmead, who have the planes going right over them.

He couldn't be bothered to attend any of the meetings of that Consultative Committee for the four years before October 2007, and quite possibly any of them since.

This despite their being a consultation in that period about increasing the number of flights by some 40,000.

When asked about his failure to attend his response was that there was nothing of impact to Greenwich that was going to be discussed.

So that extra 40,000 flights from the airport that he's on the committee for and going right over the heads of the very people he's meant to represent doesn't have any impact?

But changes to Heathrow do have enough impact for the Council to get involved?

What's the difference?

Why are local issues being ignored in favour of more wide scale ones with a lower impact?

I've said before that I get the feeling that far too many people who are involved in the politics of Greenwich, from all political parties, are not in it for the local area but instead see it as a leg up to the big boys in Westminster.

This lack of interest in the lives of the people of Thamesmead but involvement in what goes on at Heathrow seems to me to be just another example of that kind of problem.


Well another week away from Charlton in another part of the UK that seemingly doesn't have any problems keeping rubbish off of the street, which is a subject I will be returning too....

I've got a huge stack of things to get cleared over the next few days and bringing this Blog up to date is one of them.

So here we go....

Have you ever heard of Streetcar? I hadn't until a leaflet popped through my door the other week.

The basic idea is that you join up and gain access to a pool of cars for which you can book for as little as a 30 minute slot.

It turns out that Charlton has a number of cars, there's one in Wellington Avenue and a number in Sundorn Road.

This all sounds to be a really good idea for people who only really want/need a car to do an occasional large shopping run, which is about half of what I use my car for.

The hourly rate for a Polo seems to be just under £4, add onto that a yearly membership fee of £49.50 and if you do one big but quick shop a week it works out as being about £5. You get 30 miles of free petrol so there wouldn't be any charges for that either.

So basically, as said above, this seems to be a really good idea and a very positive initiative.

Has anyone out there used the service?

Anyway you can get more information here: