Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Council has a plan for the rubbish in our streets!

Could it be tackling the people doing it?

Could it be being seen to be serious about keeping our pavements clean?

Or could it be just throwing more extra collections at the problem?

Have a guess for now, I'll get back to it later.

Since last weekend a fair bit has gone on. It's curious to note that since I blogged about the lack of a response I've suddenly had a lost of emails from various people within the Council. Now a cynic would say that that's only because I've written about the Council's shocking indifference to the filth on our streets on a public web site. On the other hand you could argue that it takes a short time for the Council to formulate a plan and respond, about the only thing they seem to be quick at is taking peoples bins away, they're so quick with that they don't even tell us.


First off the blocks this week on Monday was Councillor Gary Parker who promised a response from Ray Collingham, who is an Assistant Director with responsibilities covering Cleansweep and waste management issues for the Council. But other than that had really little else to say.

However the residents of Floyd Road struck back and on Tuesday, a day after our normal collections, rubbish was already appearing in the street.

So I emailed the Council pointing out the fact that the letter tactic had clearly failed and asking what would be next.

Members of staff at the Council did get back to me the next day (Wednesday) saying that the "Enforcement Team are monitoring the road regularly, and in fact did so this morning, so hopefully they may have captured the culprit."

Well perhaps they were monitoring the road, but they weren't doing a lot of enforcing because on Wednesday night not only were Tuesday's sacks still in the street but they had been joined by some more.

Then on the 30th (Thursday) I got my promised response from Ray Collingham (kudos to Councillor Parker here, he may not always say a lot but what he does say tends to happen). It's worth repeating it in full here so I'm not seen to be potentially taking things out of context.

Thank you for your letter dated 11th April to Jim Wintour, Director of Neighbourhood Services and the attached letter to your ward councillors and the Leader of the Council.

I was very concerned to learn that wheeled bins had been removed from properties in Floyd Road without prior notice or consultation with residents. This should not have happened in this way and I would like to apologise on behalf of the Council for the inconvenience caused to you and your neighbours.

We received your letter on 16th April (the delay may have been due to the fact we have just moved from Peggy Middleton House to Crown Building) and the matter was referred to Peter Dalley, Head of Waste Services. Peter arranged for Jo Oliver (who I know you have met before) to visit Floyd Road.

Jo reported to me that she and a colleague visited properties from 2 - 30 Floyd Road on 21st April and contacted as many residents as possible.


Apologised for the fact that bins had been taken away without prior notice or consultation

Explained purpose of their visit - to ensure that residents were ok with their waste arrangements since the removal of bins

Explained the reasons for bin removal - in particular the problems caused by bins being left continuously on

Discussed individual property arrangements and requirements with residents

Explained that collection day is a Monday and waste in sacks or bins should only be presented on this day (or Sunday night) and that bins must be returned to within property after being emptied

Explained that Enforcement Officers would be monitoring Floyd Road and should waste be presented on days other than collection day then they could risk a fine of £100

Following the visit she arranged for crews to deliver bins to those residents who confirmed that they were able and willing to store them off the pavement and recycling bags to other residents. Letters were sent to all properties contacted in Floyd Road to confirm the discussions that took place on 21st April.

In addition, we have arranged for further, regular monitoring and action by the Council's Enforcement Team and for street cleansing crews to remove bagged domestic waste from the western part of Floyd Rd (between Valley Grove and Charlton Church Lane) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

I will be meeting with Council colleagues on 6th May and will we review these arrangements then.

I can assure you we will continue to work to improve the cleanliness of the area.

Yours sincerely

Ray Collingham
Assistant Director of Neighbourhood Services
Greenwich Council
020 8921 3656

My first comment is that the callers only apologised for the complete lack of any consultation or communication about our vanishing bins after I mentioned it to them. It certainly wasn't their opening gambit, in fact they seemed shocked to hear that we'd not been told anything about the removal.

The second point regards the daily collections they've decided to introduce. Unfortunately on my way home prior to reading that email I'd had to pass a whole new load of rubbish that had been dumped out in the street, I was to put it mildly somewhat grumpy. My response to the Council sums things up pretty nicely...

Thank you for your reply, I'm CC'ing my response to my local Councillors, Council Leader Chris Roberts, Head of Neighbourhood Services Jim Wintour and the people at Waste Services with whom I've communicated.

I would remind you that I've been in contact with the Council for over a year trying to resolve the problems that the "new" bin scheme introduced. Yet here I am still discussing the same problems and trying to get you, the Council, to act and keep my street clean. Please excuse me if I therefore come across as being a touch frustrated.

I am curious as to when the "regular monitoring" and daily removal of bagged waste will begin? There certainly haven't been such collections either yesterday or today, bags of rubbish have been out in the street since at least Tuesday evening.

Also how long will the daily removal of bagged waste continue?

While I do want my street to be clean I do not believe that continuing to waste tax payer funded Council resources is the right way to do it. We've already seen the Council fund extra collections and buy us extra bins (the latest of which only lasted a few weeks before you then took them away) in order to tackle the symptoms of the problem while continually dodging dealing with the actual causes itself.

Such actions might be needed in the short term but they must be coupled with action being taken so as to actually stop having to do them.

To my Councillors, I voted for you in the last elections and so I therefore feel that I am somewhat responsible as I elected people who demonstrably don't care about their constituents. You've had over a year to iron out the wrinkles with the new scheme and you've failed. If you still can't resolve the issues that you have created will you please consider stepping down at the next election so that someone who is interested in the lives of local people can take your place.

I attach some photos showing the current state of the street a week after the visits, the letter and the street getting the "daily attention" of Clean Sweep.

Ray Collingham did reply today to that email and he had this to say:

Thank you for your reply and the attached photographs. Waste Services arranged the clearance of the bin and sack this morning and have identified the properties from where they came for further action.

The back up service from street cleansing is due to start on Tuesday 5th May.

I don't know what further action they had in mind but at least one of the houses who had dumped plastic bags in the street have dumped so more out today after the first load had been taken away.

I've said this before, I've said it above and I'll say it again but let's make this really clear shall we.

Extra collections alone will not fix the problems they will simply cover them up. In fact they will make matters worse by giving people the clear understanding that they can dump what they like when they like. This will only be solved by engaging with residents and actually sorting their problems out.

So are the Council going to stand by their letter and actually sort the problem out?

Or will they just slide away back to their corporate box at the O2 and think that spending our money on extra collections is the solution.

Well, time will tell, I do however appear to have caught the right peoples attention and if the problems are solved then you'll know which Councillors and which Council Workers to thank.

1 comment:

Nat@London Calling said...

As I often go past the end of your street on a bus I always have a look down to see how your rubbish situation looks. I have to agree it didn't look up to much this week.