Croydon Council should dump its £10 charge to residents for removing bulky items of waste; there’s a need to return to weekly bin collections; it should ensure regular jet-washing of the streets; and more enforcement action against fly tippers is required – these are among the key recommendations of the Croydon North Streets Commission, which delivered its report at a Town Hall meeting tonight.The commission was set up in October by Steve Reed OBE, the Croydon North MP. The commission was chaired by Nero Ughwujabo, who heads up the Croydon BME Forum, supported by Malti Patel of the Asian Resource Centre, Julie McDonagh, from Norbury, Damian Luke, a member of the West Croydon Community Forum, and Tina Norris, the chair of the Grangewood and Whitehorse Residents’ Association.
What has been delivered is a fairly flimsy document of just 22 pages, and with fewer than 20 recommendations, none of which really go beyond what might be called statements of the bleedin’ obvious.
The commission has had an on-going credibility issue, because although it set out to be apolitical, the Tories who run Croydon Council and who have been accused of operating a form of rubbish apartheid – applying more resources to keep the Conservative-supporting south of the borough clean - have dismissed it as being a Labour put-up job.
Not for the first time, florid-faced Mike Fisher, the £53,000 per year leader of the council, snubbed his invitation to a Reed-brokered event. Phil Thomas, the council cabinet member responsible for the state of the borough’s streets, was also absent.
Fisher’s Labour council opposite number, Tony Newman, used the report to make a call for an urgent meeting of the full council.
Fisher did, though, at least have the decency to write to the commission chair, saying that he welcomed the report and the scrutiny of his council’s services.
As far as Newman was concerned, “This is the issue that the local elections will be fought on.”
Newman must have seen the figures from the commission’s surveys, data compiled from (just) 245 respondents in north Croydon who had contacted the commission, which showed:
- 62 per cent said that they are dissatisfied with the borough’s street cleaning and waste disposal services
- 77 per cent said they are unhappy about the amounts of fly tipping in the borough
- 15 per cent of respondents said that they are very satisfied with Croydon’s fortnightly bin collection service
“It is fair to say that local residents feel very concerned about the state of Croydon North Streets and have urged the panel very strongly to put their concerns across,” Ughwujabo said in his introductory remarks to the report.
“We have received paragraphs, videos and other documentary evidence from a large number of local residents which is a testament to the seriousness of their concerns… The panel relied on these contributions in arriving at the conclusions in this report.
“It was made very clear to the panel that local people felt that council street cleaning, enforcement and fly tipping response services fell short of their expectations,” Ughwujabo said.
“They felt that a substantive review and urgent improvements are necessary… We believe strongly that local people and in particular, the residents associations will be part of a sustainable solution to the problems.
“However, the panel was concerned that some residents and businesses in the area were contributing to the problem and that there need to be greater responsibilities on the part of those who live in Croydon North to keep the area clean for everyone.”
- The council should consider removing the £10 charge for bulky items disposal; this charge may be cost-neutral when cost of fly tipping and the associated clean-up costs are considered. The administrative process for bulky items booking and collection should also be simplified.
- The council should provide larger communal bins in areas of very high-density population (including blocks of flats) and make it more widely known that larger bins are available for larger households.
- The number of public litter bins should be increased perhaps by encouraging businesses to “Sponsor-a-bin” and they need to be emptied more often as available ones are frequently overflowing.
- The council should also consider whether weekly bin collections are appropriate in parts of the north of the borough with a high number of multiple-occupancy dwellings.
- Across the north of the borough, it is widespread that streets are swept the day before rubbish is collected. Bin collections often leave litter and debris on the streets. The council should reverse the order so that the street cleaning happens after the weekly bin collection.
- The council should ensure that small businesses across the north of the borough all have appropriate waste management licenses.
- Waste management should become a key factor when decisions are made regarding licenses for new business premises.
- The provision of blue boxes and green boxes should be reassessed considering that items inside the boxes blow away to create litter and debris in the streets.
- The council should be proactive in contacting and supporting residents’ associations who make local efforts to clean up their areas. They can be supported to grow and do more; collaborate with each other and new ones established in areas where they don’t currently have one.
- Working in partnership with residents’ associations, the council should reinstate ‘Rolling Rubbish’; providing litter-pickers, gloves and bags for local clean-up efforts and offering financial support for printing costs for residents’ associations who wish to raise awareness of litter issues in their area.
The level of enforcement against fly tipping needs to be dramatically scaled up to combat the ‘Broken Windows’ effect of rubbish dumping in the area. The council could install working CCTV cameras in known hot-spots.
- The Council should review its overall approach to enforcement with a particular focus on how the laws on waste disposal are publicised and the impact of non-enforcement on the scale of the problem in Croydon North
- The council should reassess the street cleaning provision following large events at Crystal Palace stadium (Selhurst Park), as streets across Thornton Heath, South Norwood and the surrounding areas are affected by the litter dropped by event attendees.
- The council needs to work with Landlords to ensure that properties with a high turnover of tenants are not dumping furniture when their tenancies end. Enforcement action should be direct towards areas known for short-term residency.
- Some residents felt that the new street lighting across parts of the borough has impacted on the appearance of the area to the extent that brighter lighting would work to discourage fly tipping in problem areas. The view is that the new lighting being fitted across the North is less bright. The council should review whether the installation of new lighting is taking too long and whether the removal of existing lighting poles can be done quicker to avoid obstruction.
- The council should take every opportunity to inform residents of its waste management policies and processes, encouraging them to recycle and encouraging greater responsibility and care for the areas in which they live; along the lines of a “Keep Croydon Clean” campaign.
- Croydon North Streets should be jet-washed regularly to remove slime and chewing gum.
- The council and local strategic partners should consider Croydon North as a topic for discussion at a future Croydon Congress with a particular focus on regeneration, street cleaning and fly tipping.
- The two main political parties in Croydon should consider reflecting the findings and recommendations in this report in their manifestos.
How Inside Croydon has been covering the borough’s rubbish reputation for the past three years:
- Croydon in 2013: The Garbage Gallery revisited
- Croydon in 2012: The Garbage Gallery
- Fly tipping more than doubled in Croydon since 2010
- Dirty Croydon: “I’m ashamed of the dirty state of my road”
- Croydon in a Pickles again over its rubbish service
Coming to Croydon
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Mark Steel at Ashcroft Theatre, Feb 12
- Croydon Arts Network meeting, Feb 15
- Chinese New Year children’s event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 18
- Welsh myths children’s event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Warm and Well event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Fairtrade event, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 3
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
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