Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The new bin scheme "is generally seen to be working"

I've had an email from Councillor Gary Parker replying to my response to his comments on a blog entry about the costs of the new bin scheme (166% more rubbish lorries).

It contains a statement that's one of the funniest statements I've heard in 2008, either that or either Councillor Parker or myself is incredibly out of touch with the opinion's of Greenwich residents.

The statement?

"the new system is generally seen to be working and both improving the environment locally & regionally"

Seen to be working by whom? I don't remember my street looking like a rubbish dump before the new scheme came in and my efforts to be green have resulted in more than double the number of polluting rubbish trucks trundling up and down my street.

My local friends seem to be equally fed up with the new scheme and other local bloggers have been critical.

So am I and my friends in the minority and on the whole local people think the new system has made things better?

Or is Councillor Parker making it up?

I'll send a response to him later, for the moment I'm too busy alternating between laughter and a concern that I'm living in some weird parallel universe, besides there's parties to be got ready for.

Happy new year to everyone and in the mean time here's the Councillors email in full:

Thank you for giving me space on your blog, to put forward the points I detailed in my previous emails. I would prefer not to get caught up in too much detail on this issue without seeking clarification on a number of issues you have raised. As I am not personally responsible for day to day management of the service, I will forward this email to council officers for their comments.
I would add though:
  • While are still things that need to be improved in both waste collection and environmental improvements, the new system is generally seen to be working and both improving the environment locally & regionally and saves significant sums of money
  • Myself and other ward councillors are working on initiatives to improve the environment and involve local people, work with CCRA as described in my previous email is only the first step
  • We will provide further information later in 2009 to local people, once we have consulted local community groups and developed some further proposals with these groups

Happy new year to you, all your readers and Charlton residents alike

Cllr Gary Parker
Charlton Ward


853blog said...

Happy new year CA - here's some observations of mine.

I think grumbling about the number of recycling lorries is a bit of a red herring - be nice if they were powered by electricity, though - although it's proof that one year on, Greenwich Council didn't prepare for the amount of work it needed to put in to make this new recycling scheme work.

On the whole, the scheme is a good thing - there's no way a civilised country should be throwing its waste into holes in the ground, and incineration isn't ideal. There's no going back to the old ways, so the best way is to come up with a new solution, which Greenwich did.

Obviously, it's not because they're passionate for the environment - they'd be in the Green Party if they were - but because of the threat of landfill taxes and other sanctions. And being a mere borough, they really don't have the clout, say, a London-wide scheme would benefit from.

However, the achilles heel is the perennial problem with Greenwich Council - it's an organisation that prefers to hide in its bunker and tell its residents what to do, rather than work with its residents to find a workable solution.

So, with very little consultation, they introduced the new scheme, made a right royal balls-up of it, and have spent 2008 cleaning up the mess (literally). But without publicly admitting to it, or trying to involve the people who have to use its systems.

At the moment, here in leafy Victoria Way we get one set of bins done at VERY EARLY on a Monday morning, another done late in the afternoon, and the bins left out to block the pavement. Then on a Tuesday (without any notice), the black bins are done, and then left out to block the pavement.

It's be nice if they a) told us they'd switched black bins to Tuesday and b) put the bins back. But they don't, so people like you and I get suspicious.

Is there a named person who's in charge of bin collections in each area, who can talk to residents and get things sorted? No. So the councillors end up having to pick up the slack because the structure's been put in place on the cheap (ah, that's your low council tax rise).

Fair play to Gary Parker for engaging in this debate, it's more than I've seen any Labour councillor in Greenwich do on any blog. I saw him at the Charlton Central Residents Association meeting and he didn't look too proud of the mess his council makes.

The council desperately, and urgently needs a change of culture. It's been run by the same party since 1972, and its mindset, in both its offices and the council chamber, is still stuck there. Opposition councillors consistently fail to hold them to account. And fresh blood among councillors and staff is desperately needed.

Unless you're in a CCRA-style organisation, it's very hard to engage with the council (witness they way they divvied up tickets to the Red Bull Air race, or the Olympic consultation). We can't contribute to the CCRA because we live in the wrong streets. It's all very well "consulting community groups", but what if there isn't one for your area?

Sadly, whatever the efforts of Gary Parker, Greenwich Council's always going to be like that unless there's change at the very top. Remember that on election day in 2010.

Nigel said...

Well for me and my family the new bin and recycling service is great and works really well. What's more, no one in my street seems to have a problem with it.
TBH you come across as a bit sad and obsessive. Get a grip man, and get a life. this is London!