Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Streets of Charlton

As I walked up to the Great Get Together I took some photos along the way to capture how Charlton looks today.

There would have been more but as I said in an earlier post a truck came along Floyd Road today and picked up a number of black sacks that were out and about.

The next black sack collection isn't due for over a week...

Waste Services at the Great Get Together

Today was the day of the Great Get Together at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.

I took myself up there with the intention of having a word with someone at the Talk Café, where according to the Council's web site "you can enjoy free refreshments and give feedback on local issues by writing your suggestions on the suggestion wall, or filling in questionnaires and online surveys".

There were a fair few people up there and a few activities going on, if you had children I think it would have been quite a fun few hours. However I was there on business, so into the Talk Café I went. Well into it I went eventually, it did look a touch intimidating. They had a police car, a police CCTV van and a metal detector gate arch thing, maybe they were expecting trouble.

I couldn't see any of the Councillor's for Charlton there so I took myself over the the Waste Services stand and had a word with them there, I ended up talking to a couple of women who were very helpful and open with me. The key points to come out of this were:

  • Floyd Road is indeed a priority street and is still being dealt with.

  • A Councillor did bring Floyd Road to the attention of the Waste Services Team.

  • Reporting a problem to Cleansweep via the Call Centre (020 8921 4661) should result in the call being logged and Waste Services getting involved if they have to, you shouldn't need to contact them directly.

  • The big blue wheely bin at the top should have been removed by now, the Kebab shop owners had told them that it would be. Enforcement Officers will be sent to check it out and have another word with them.

  • Enforcement Officers will also be around this week to check for stray black sacks and contaminated bins.

  • Moving from trying to help residents who are having persistent problems to some kind of actual enforcement is proving to be awkward, "political" was the word actually used.

  • The whole scheme was dropped onto waste services with very little notice and there's only four of them to deal with the whole borough, they are working through a huge backlog of problems.

  • Black bins are going to be introduced for black sack waste, couple with this is going to be an increased drive to get bins stored off of the street.

On the matter of contaminated bins there was a waste lorry going around the streets this morning emptying contaminated green bins (those with plastic bags in), Miss Charlton Average believes that they had to empty about half the bins in Floyd Road. This is clearly a huge problem.

As to why actually enforcing the new bin scheme being a "political" matter could that go back to the Council claiming that 90% of households are doing the right thing with their bins and that their have only been a few teething problems?

If the Council continue to try and claim that all is well in Greenwich how will it look to set Waste Enforcement onto 1 in 10 of the households in the borough?

It would seem that it's better to let the four people in Waste Services run themselves ragged and to allow the streets to look like rubbish dumps than to actually admit that the problems we face are more than teething ones and that they never planned for this new scheme properly.

Anyhow I do get the feeling that Waste Services are trying hard to deal with this and I have seen some changes already, there's still a way to go but after nearly 6 months of nothing any progress is a great start.

So if you're street looks, and smells, like a rubbish dump what you need to do is to get Waste Services involved. This could prove to be rather tricky given the small numbers of staff and the borough wide spread of problems. However push your Councillors and it seems that you can get some form of action.

Here are some photos anyway.Looking across the main field towards the tents that housed lots of different stalls giving advice on different things, it all looked rather useful to be honest.

The Talk Cafe.

Another view of the Talk Cafe, note the Police van, Police car, metal detector arch and security people. The Council seems convinced that everything is well in Greenwich and that the people are happy...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tomorrow's "Great Get Together"

Barbara, in a comment to an earlier post, points out that tomorrow there is a Great Get Together at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich (read about it here).

She's going to be going along to talk to her local Councillors about the poor state that the new rubbish collection scheme has left her local streets in.

That seems to be my local "Great Get Together" too so I will try to make an appearance there and collar a Councillor or two as well. The more of us that do that the better. So please if you're bothered by the state of our streets please try and get there if you can. I'm convinced that people power can work and that we can make a difference over this.

It's interesting to note that I don't think I've had one email from the Council about it though. They're more than happy to email me when the O2 seems to be short of bums on seats (like the one today for the Comedy Event tomorrow that's happening when the Jubilee Line is shut) but nothing about an important local event like that.

I'm sure you can make your own conclusions on that...

Bin blog?

Jim posted a comment to my last posting about the state of my street basically saying that all I seem to be posting about recently is the bins and that it was more interesting when I wasn't.

I can actually see his point, there's a number of local history things I was going to be looking into and posting about and I'd find that far more interesting. However my time right now is really rather pressured, and my street has been looking (and smelling) awful. So what's a blogger to do?

So yes I am going to write about what's happening around here, or more importantly I'll be writing about what the Council are not doing. It's tempting to just turn my back on it and write about more interesting things instead, but I do feel that there has to be some public record of how the Council are treating their residents. So I keep on at them and I keep a record of it here.

And maybe, just maybe, that tactic is actually working.

As I've said I've made contact with some people in Waste Services and things do actually seem to be happening now. People have been spoken to and the owner of the big blue wheely bin located (it's the kebab shop). It seems like there has been some poking around as the shop on the corner has now put up a small notice on their side wall saying that the rubbish is nothing to do with them. There's also been talk about removing some of the bins as well.

I suspect that Councillor Gary Parker might be behind getting Waste Services involved, it's very hard to tell. Someone managed to designate this street as a priority and it was that that triggered their visits.

Perhaps I'll now be able to devote my Charlton Average time to more interesting things, it shouldn't take this amount of effort to get the rubbish collected.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Water Mystery

Somone, Thames Water I believe, is gradually going around the borough replacing the old water mains with new ones.

The works were due to hit my road on Monday, we had a letter about it and big signs went up on the lamposts telling us that the parking bays were being suspended for three weeks.

So Monday comes, I fill some bottles with water as we'd been warned that the supplies might be turned off. My car has been moved around the corner.

And then suddenly nothing much happen. Strange paint markings have appeared in the road but that's about it. The signs about the parking suspension vanish at some point during the day and many people are now parking as per usual.

So what's happening? Is the work going ahead? Is it rescheduled? Can I park my car outside again?

The work has presumably got to happen at some point and I'm fine with it being done, I'd just quite like to know when so I can plan accordingly.

I've tried to phone the Council and they weren't a lot of help. They told me that it's not their highways department, which I knew, and that they didn't know anything about it, which is a surprise.

I'll try and find out what's happening...

Update: I found this page on the Thames Water web site. A phone call turned up that the works have been delayed by a week or so and so the no parking signs were taken down. The man was unable to tell me when the restrictions will come back into force but said that they might do so without much notice.

So I'm keeping my car around the corner and a bottle of water in the fridge.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Road manages to get worse...

Well the state of the top of the road is getting worse and a very nice smell is developing.

Perhaps inspired by the filth on their doorstep the people up the top of the street have also once again filled their green bins with plastic bags.

Today is the third day since I've reported it to Cleansweep. So according to their own estimates it should be cleaned up. Fingers crossed.

Following on from the visit by some Council people last week I do have a name within waste services who I'm now trying to contact. It's a new angle of attack and she did seem helpful and wanted to know of any further problems.

But can I be excused for feeling very pessimistic about actually seeing any results?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The blind indifference of a merciless, unfeeling Council

As I alluded to the other day I found out last week that Floyd Road is now a "Priority Street" for the Council when it comes to cleaning it up and sorting out the rubbish issues.

This came about because the Council sent some people around to chat to the residents about the new scheme and our feelings on it. I spent about 10 minutes talking to a very nice and seemingly interested lady from Waste Services.

She said the Council were serious about tackling the problem and they knew who some of the more problematic residents were. In particular she spoke to the people who keep doing things like this (their bins are on the left) and this (again their bins are on the left and they were responsible for at least for of the rubbish in the pile on the right, there was a parcel addressed to them amongst it). I suggest that they have a word with people like that a while ago, perhaps they were having some problems or were new residents baffled by the new collection scheme. Well either way it was seemingly finally being done.

So anyway I felt confident that things were finally being done. Perhaps the Council really were going to get this street looking like it did before the new bin scheme came in. I admit that even that wasn't great but it was better than the "the bin men are on strike" look that they seemingly are trying to cultivate now.

However towards the tail end of last week my optimism began to wane, today it's broken completely.

The least of the problems is that yet again numerous people around here have put black sacks out on the wrong week. So they sit there being animal and lout fodder for the next week.

However what's now up at the top of Floyd Road really takes the biscuit. There's an overflowing bin, a huge pile of black sacks and other rubbish next to it and sitting near the top is a large blue wheely bin thing that's also overfilling.

So this is a "priority street"? May your deity of choice help the rest of you.

So let's recap the things that I've heard from various representatives of the Council nearly 5 months into the new scheme and 3 months since I began to try and get them to clean the street up.

Councillor Janet Gillman: One fifty word letter back, a quick response but aside from saying the immediate mess at the time would be cleared up no comment about any long term solution. I've heard nothing from her since.

Councillor Allan MacCarthy: Took three weeks to respond due to a claim of illness. His letter dropped Councillor Gillman into it by saying she was dealing with it and would keep me up to date, not a word since. So did Councillor Gillman slack off in keeping me up to date or is Councillor MacCarthy a liar and she said she would do no such thing?

Councillor Gary Parker: I've had quite a bit of contact with this Councillor, he puts the others to shame on that front. However in terms of actual results he's not faired much better. Over a month ago he told me he was "monitoring the situation" in Floyd Road. Well either he's given up on that or he's seen that state of it and is happy with it, neither are particularly nice options. When there have been particularly bad problems he has been able to get them cleaned up and I believe it was him that prodded Jim Wintour into action, see below, and seems to also have been connected in the Waste Services staff coming around last week. However the problems haven't stopped, so after so many months what I am to think?

Jim Wintour, Director of Neighbourhood Services: Took three weeks to respond. He did get the immediate mess cleared up when he said he would, however he's seemingly done nothing to stop it coming back. Back at the tail end of April he did claim that letters were being sent to those residents who were having trouble following the new scheme. Were they? If so was he happy that the letters were just ignored?

So we've got one Councillor who did nothing, another Councillor who pointed the finger at another Councillor and then ran away, as final Councillor who seems able to tackle the symptoms when chased but is incapable of making a dent on the cause and a director of the department responsible who gave one long reply, did a single clean up within the timeframe he said that he would but then vanished into silent oblivion.


Let me remind those people that I for one regret with a great passion voting for what my dictionary says ward stands for.

Ward: Under care of a guardian, guardianship.

Charlton is under your care, you are it's guardian. That's not because it was forced upon you but because you choose to stand up before us residents and say that you could be trusted with it.

Look back through my old posts about this.

Look at the photos that close this entry.

Remember this has been going on for nearly half a year.

Can anyone say that they're doing a good job?

As before this will be reported and I'm sure that it will be cleaned up, but I'm equally sure that not one of the people listed above will do anything of substance and determination to stop it from happening again.

I'm not alone in this, another local blogger has reported a very similar problem with a very familiar lack or response from the Council.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Council in lack of action shock!

I'm not the only person to be fed up with the lack of action from Greenwich Council when it comes to keeping the borough clean and tidy.

Read this story from the NewsShopper web site.

That's been running for 18 years!

"Ms Brown says residents have been in constant contact with council officials about the issue but there has been no end to the problem."

Constant contact with Council officials? No end to the problem? It all sounds very familiar doesn't it...

Actually to be honest there have been signs of action on my street. We had a Council employee come around the other day and apparently Floyd Road is a "priority street" for clearing up. I need to do a full post about that but I just really haven't had the time, it will be coming soon, along with some photos of what a "priority street" looks like, well that's unless they clean it up soon, which is unlikely.