Sunday, May 17, 2009

Councillor Parker speaks...

Well I seem to be doing well this week, having annoyed Councillor Nigel Fletcher I now seem to have needled Councillor Gary Parker too.

Well at least I'm an equal opportunity annoyance.

Anyway I do give my Councillors a fair amount of stick on this web site so I think that it's only fair that I share his response. It might well be that you agree with him and you think that they are doing a good job, please read and make your own mind up.

I have read your blog today with interest, you say in it that Floyd Road - your road has been cleaner than it has been for some time (your blog dated 16/5/09)- this is due to action by ward councillors and officers to address this issue. Then you claim later in the blog that the council is indifferent to this and is happy to have rotting food in the streets etc- is this not somewhat contradictory?. You also claim the council is wasting tax payers money on these issues, yet as I have explained to you previously, due to our recycling facility in Thamesmead the council recycles over 40% of its waste- the highest in London, saving money on expensive landfill. We provide more collections than many other local authorities and are still saving council tax payers money too, some local authorities only provide bi-weekly collections for some items of waste.

The fact is, ward and other councillors including myself have taken action on this issue, and when it has been brought to our attention we have acted quickly and so have officers- none of us have been indifferent to it as you claim. It is people who dump rubbish, not the council and we need to educate and inform people on these issues- which we also do through the council website, leaflets etc.

Officers are working on these issues and the enforcement team has been out in the area and officers have met with you and corresponded with you personally, have they not? As I have intimated to you before, the council is constantly reviewing this issue and looking at other areas/ councils more models of best practise- in Tory Bexley for example they fined people £12 for non compliance on these issues, this was then replaced with a policy of non- collection. Neither of these has worked particularly well and the latter could be counter productive – if you have any suggestions I would be interested to hear them.

In the meantime myself and my co- councillors have been working to support local community groups working to address a number of issues which will involve community action day on local environmental (not just waste issues) issues in July. We have also dealt with a wide range of other issues and casework regarding other issues too and will continue to do so.

As far as I am concerned I reject your assertions that ward councillors are indifferent on these issues and as you are aware, I have responded personally to you on several occasions this year alone and will continue to address these issues not only in Floyd Road but other parts of Charlton as and if they arise.

And here's my response:

Thank you for your email. I am grateful for the level of contact you have had with me and I hope that I've been open about how you do keep in touch on the blog.

Yes my road is cleaner than it has been in some time. However that is the result of the Council doing daily collections, and we seem to only be getting those because I've been pushing and complaining for over a year. Those daily collections are not the solution to the problem and will, in my opinion, make the problem worse as people continue to see that they can throw what they want into the street and it will be taken away.

That it's taken a year of letters, emails, chats to the staff at waste services, silly tables of monkeys and blog entries to reach a situation when the same problems are still being reacted to rather than fixed does, in my opinion, make is reasonable to question the Council's level of concern and commitment over the issue.

Yes the problem is ultimately with the people who are ignoring the new scheme. However we didn't have these problems with the old system so they are directly connected with the arrival of the new scheme. You're right to say you do need to educate and inform people about the issues, and that's just what's not happened until quite possibly the last few weeks.

And as for the comment about other Councils "only" offering bi-weekly collection of some waste I would remind you that that was Greenwich Councils' original intention too. However that intention evaporated in Floyd Road some time ago as extra collections were introduced to keep a lid on the problems and finally vanished borough wide relatively recently. I see nothing wrong in bi-weekly collections for some waste, I believe that the original version of the new bin scheme could have worked. However when problems appeared rather than resolve them the Council just seems to have backed away and implemented the easiest "fix" rather than stand by their plans.

Sometimes my emails and blog entries can be somewhat bitter however I would remind you that I've spent a year just trying to get my street back to the level of cleanliness that we used to have. I've had to also spend that year weaving along a pavement blocked with overspilling uncollected bins or sacks of torn apart waste with their rotting contents scattered all around. I've also had to frequently read in sources such as Greenwich time about how well the new scheme is going and how there were only a few teething problems, which just rubs salt into the wounds.

It's not been a good year.

We've still got the the same problems that I wrote to the Council about back in March 2008.

I defy anyone to call the current situation a success or say that we got to it quickly.

A "success" would be easy to measure, clean streets with no extra or special collections. We're not there 16 months into the "new" scheme, and I think that's really quite depressing.


Anonymous said...

The "community action day" is a Charlton Central Residents Association thing - no good to you or I, since we're not able to join because we don't live in the right streets.

See pages 4 and 6 of this PDF.

Trouble is for Councillor Parker is that the council, as an organisation, prefers to deal with friendly residents' groups than individuals. Unfortunately, if you can't get involved with those groups, you get disenfranchised.

And while his frankness is, as ever, welcome, his willingness to engage with people and publicly discuss the issues the council face is pretty bloody rare.

Charlton Average said...

I appear to have somehow trashed a comment that someone left, so I'm putting it back in myself.

This was left by someone named Alex Clark:

Take a look around Greenwich today, do you see a place that is what it could be? I think not.
The Market is just a roundabout, the schools are amongst the worst in the UK, the streets have more litter in them than the local tips. These are all issues that a decent local council could and should help to heal. In my opinion it is time that there is some sort of change because as it is it is pathetic. The Labour politicians, even the councillors seem to be riding a gravy train which is fueled by uranium, very powerful, but it could go off in their face.... I think it's time for change, but at the same time, a "protest vote" for the Greens is as good as throwing a vote away. To get rid of the council there is a simple message, voting Conservative will get them out better than voting Green, and I say that as a long term supporter of Labour. But I just can't support them at the council level (or national level) anymore.