Sunday, April 26, 2009

Someone's doing something...

It's been over a week since my last comment on the matter and since then I've heard absolutely nothing from all of my Councillors, Chris Roberts the Council Leader and Jim Wintour (the head of Neighbourhood services).


Not one word.

However something is happening...

Workers from Waste Services came around in the week and tried to talk to people, though it was during the day so much success they had is debatable. That was followed up with a letter which basically said that bins and rubbish go out on Monday and only on Monday and that the Enforcement team is watching.

At the moment there are still many sacks of rubbish out along the pavement, however I believe that they were all dumped out early in the week and I'm not sure that many more have been added since the letter was sent out.

However next week will be telling.

Will people still throw out whatever they want when ever they want?

Will the Council actually do something about it?

By do I don't necessarily mean throw their legal muscle around and fine people, but instead to try engaging with them so as to resolve the problem.

The Council has spent the last year enabling and encouraging people to ignore the new bin system and litter our streets by continually refusing to address those with difficulties and wasting our tax money funding extra bins and collections.

Might things now be changing?

Fingers crossed...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Would Roberts Do?

Not a lot, or so it would appear....

Over a week ago I emailed my three local Councillors, Jim Wintour and Chris Roberts the Council Leader an electronic copy of a letter that I also posted to them (which given the holiday they should have got on Tuesday).

Overall I have had no proper responses to my questions. I still haven't been told why the bins were taken away, why there was no consultation or why the Call Centre have after nearly 4 weeks still not called me back.

Here's a summary of what each person has done, and I'll tell you now it's not long...

Councillor Allan MacCarthy
He emailed me on Monday to say:
My colleagues are dealing with the matters you have raised. Nevertheless I want to assure you of my concern with these issues. I shall look out for your letter and help as best I can.

Passing the buck onto his colleagues was his response the first time that I tried to contact him. Given as how nothing has happened I have to presume that the best he can do is, to be frank, nothing.

Councillor Gary Parker
Councillor Parker actually had a preview of a draft form of my letter on the 4th of April. He replied on the 11th saying:
I have just come back from holiday and will get onto this as soon as possible.

Well "as soon as possible" doesn't appear to be within a week, I've not heard anything from him since.

Councillor Janet Gillman
She emailed me on the 13th of April saying:
Thank you for the email and photographic evidence of the rubbish in Floyd Rd about which I am pleased to say as the Leader of the Council was in the vicinity of Floyd Rd over the weekend, he was able to take immediate action. I am not in receipt of your letter yet, but as you and my co-Councillors are aware there is a history of problematic rubbish collection in Floyd Road. I will therefore ascertain what has happened to the Floyd Rd wheely bins and why it has taken so long to let residents know of the situation resulting in rubbish on the pavement over the weekend.

Since then? Nothing.

Council Leader Chris Roberts
Unfortunately despite his early rising to the challenge and responding within the day to my email he's now sunk back down to the standard level of Greenwich Council's commitment to it's residents, that is to say that I've heard no more from him.

Jim Wintour, Director of Neighbourhood Services
Absolutely nothing...

Is this lack of action and concern a surprise? Well no, not really, though I had hoped for a change when Councillor Roberts swung the arrogant silence seems to be pretty much par for the course.

I'm also aware that now I've mentioned this on here we'll never know if any response that I do get is because I've publicly shown how little they care or because they genuinely were working on the issue.

For completeness here is the letter that I sent to all of the above over a week ago:

On Wednesday the 25th of March all the wheely bins from my side of Floyd Road vanished. A neighbour managed to find out that it was apparently due to complaints received about the bins blocking the pavement.

I would like your responses to the following issues and questions.

1) On Wednesday the 25th of March I called your service centre to ask what had happened to my bins (call reference 378658). The person on the end of the phone didn’t know and I was told that a supervisor would call me back with an answer. Over two weeks have passed and I still await a response. Is this an appropriate level of service? If not what is going to done about it?

2) There was no communication about there being a problem with the bins before they were taken away. Do you believe that it is appropriate for such actions to be taken with no consultation before the event and, to date, none after?

3) Storage of the bins is a problem along my part of the street with the only off street area being accessible via a steep flight of stairs. Despite this many residents may have preferred to have tried to keep one bin back, balancing their physical capabilities and the expected weight of rubbish. Why were we not given this choice?

4) Many residents will now probably give up on the idea of separating their rubbish, keeping three bins running inside a small flat being somewhat difficult. Are you happy with the effect that this will have on Greenwich Council’s land fill statistics? Again consider that this could have largely been avoided had you talked with residents first.

5) One of the reasons that Floyd Road had so many bins is that we were issued them in an attempt to deal with the problems of contaminated bins and black sacks put out in the wrong week. The issuing of bins seems to have been the chosen solution rather than talking to residents and trying to resolve the problems with the implementation of the “new” bin scheme.

6) How many complaints were received about bins blocking Floyd Road and when did they occur? Consider that it took one resident of Victoria Road four weeks and emails to his Councillors and Council executives to get a few bins removed ( Did the complaints occur before the new black bins were issued? If before then why were the black bins sent out? If after then why did the Council act so quickly and with no word to residents?

7)Residents are now dumping sacks of rubbish out in the street from the day after the rubbish collections. Rather than wheely bins blocking the pavement we now have plastic sacks full of rotting food doing the same. They are damaged by wildlife and pedestrians and rubbish is now scattered across the pavement on a daily basis. Do you believe that this is an improvement? Will you now talk to the residents who are having problems or will some other “out of the blue” solution be foisted upon us all?

8) Looking through the above points Greenwich Council’s failure to communicate with residents comes through time and time again. Sending out leaflets or publishing articles in Greenwich time trying to assure us that all is well with the new scheme is not communication. Why has the Council repeatedly avoided talking to residents? Over the past year due to a number of residents having difficulties we have been given extra bins, extra collections and now a complete removal of all of our bins. Do you not feel that all of this could have been avoided had someone actually talked to those people who were having problems.

I await your responses with interest.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Emailing the Council

I've sent my Councillors, Jim Wintour (the head of Neighbourhood Services) and Chris Roberts (the Council Leader) a letter and I also emailed them all a copy taking advantage of the medium to attach some photos too.

The first surprise, well to be honest perhaps not that much of one, is that Jim Wintour's details page on the Council web site has the wrong email address on it. It lists his email address as (his PA). If you try and contact him via that address you get a bounced back message saying that Brenda no longer works for the Council and, rather helpfully, Brenda Howlett has now left the building.

Nice to see the Council making sure it's contact details are up to date and that it's easy for us residents to contact them.

The second surprise is that within an hour Chris Roberts himself replied to my email, that did somewhat set me back. In all honesty I've not held a very high opinion of Mr Roberts ever since he stood on stage at the O2 and lied to me and thousands of other residents. However in all honesty he does deserve some praise for this. On what I presume was a day off he received an email from a resident from a different ward to his own and very rapidly he responded.

However unfortunately he couldn't read the letter attachment as he was on a mobile gadget that didn't support the format, though I presume that he could see the photos. He did provide me with Jim Wintour's proper email address which, for the record, is

Later in the day he emailed me again saying that he had walked along Floyd Road and that the rubbish in the street had been cleared away, which had happened at some point in the morning.

I replied saying:
The actual problem isn't the rubbish it's that the rubbish keeps happening and the wheeley bins along my side of the street were all taken away with no contact from the Council before or since (in fact I'm still waiting a call back from a supervisor at the Council call centre over two weeks since I called them asking where the bins had gone).

I'll wait for you to be able to read the letter which details the problem and some of the history behind it.

So so far I'm actually impressed with his response. It's not just what I believe we should get from a Councillor but is, in my opinion, above and beyond the call of duty, and I can't believe I'm saying that about a Greenwich Councillor but I've got to be honest and pat him on the back over this.

However what will happen when the letter is actually read?

Will the call centre actually call me?

Will we get an apology for the way our bins were just taken away?

Might we be offered a small bin if we keep it off the pavement (which is actually fine with me)?

Might the Council finally do something about those people who throw rubbish out in the street on any day and block the pavement?

Or will the Council think that cleaning up when prodded is a genuine and satisfactory solution and replace it's head in the sand?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Photo Diary of my street

This is the second day after the bins were collected, a lot of the sacks were actually dumped out at some point on Tuesday just one day after the collections.

The difference a day makes... Yes that is a food caddy bag in the first photo and yes it has split open. Note how the second shot shows rubbish dumped outside almost every house along the street. There's still five days to go until it's taken away.

To my Councillors
You have spent the last 14 months refusing to tackle the problems with the new bin scheme and the photos show what you have caused. By refusing to speak to those who were having problems and instead choosing to spend our money funding extra collections and bins you have enabled this sort of behaviour. You have sent the message out loud and clear that people can put anything out in the street, on any day of the week and you will, eventually, fund something to paper over the problem. As if that didn't chip away enough at the morale of those trying to follow the complexities of your new scheme the final slap in the face is when you took all of our bins away without any word to us either before or since. You don't care, that much has been made perfectly clear. And now it's apparent that your attitude has rubbed of on many of the residents along the street.

You have safe seats and you know it. You sit on your chairs in the council chamber, take our money as pay and then spend our tax so that you can avoid taking responsibility and talking to us. As if that's not insult enough you then have us fund a paper that tells us that everything is wonderful. Our money is spent to avoid facing problems and then our money is spent again to try and convince us that there aren't any problems.

Why waste money on extra bins, extra collections and white washes in a paper when I'm sure that so much could be achieved by the simple expedient of knocking on a few doors and saying "hi, how can we help you out?"

I hope these pictures, the memories of your inaction, the money you have wasted, and the arrogance that you show by refusing to talk to us haunt you when next you stand before us and ask for our votes.

What will it take for you to do something and to come down and fix the problems you have caused?

PS: The call centre still hasn't contacted me and it's been over two weeks since they said that they would.

PPS: There's a Charlton Match today. As if the shameful evidence of your lack of care to tens of thousands of visitors isn't sufficiently bad I'm sure that the bags will also be kicked and torn even more.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Early, early bin bags & a Chocolate Teapot nomination!

Well the bin collection was yesterday and somewhat surprisingly the bin men did indeed take all of the sacks of refuse along the street. However they left behind a lot of waste that had spilled from the bags that had been ripped open, the street looks lovely.

Someone has also claimed the prize for the earliest bin bag out on the street and had dumped a bag outside there house before the early hours of this morning. So that’s going to be there for a whole week given that next Monday’s collection will be pushed back to Tuesday due to Easter.

I can only imagine how things will look in another seven days time.

And still the Council will do nothing and after nearly two weeks the call centre hasn’t even bothered to get back to me.

The call centre has certainly earned itself a Chocolate Teapot 2009 nomination….

Saturday, April 04, 2009

This is an improvement on bins in the street?

These photos were taken on Saturday, people been dumping sacks of rubbish in the street from Wednesday onwards and this is how it looks now. We had our usual collections on Monday and an extra one on Tuesday that took away the sacks that Monday's didn't.

Yes this is the fault of the residents but I can understand even the most determined recycler becoming disheartened and sick of the Council after a year of seeing them fail to deal with people who ignored the new system and then having their bins taken away with any notice.

A letter is being sent to my three local Councillors, Jim Wintour (head of neighbourhood services and apparent Olympic Equine specialist) and Council Leader Chris Robers, if you don't like how they are happy for our streets to look then please please please contact them yourself. You wouldn't know it from the lack of consideration, contempt, and arrogance that they show but they are meant to be working for and to be accountable to us.

Councillor Gary Parker
Councillor Janet Gillman
Councillor Allan MacCarthy
Jim Wintour
Council Leader Chris Roberts