Despite Croydon’s Conservative-run council spending many millions of pounds each year on an outsourced contract, the streets of New Addington are so dirty that the local MP is calling for volunteers to clean them up.
Gavin Barwell, the Tory MP for Croydon Central, has appealed for help this week with a street clean-up on Sunday.
Extraordinarily, Barwell claims that the streets of Croydon will never be properly cleaned under the council’s multi-million pound street cleaning contract with Veolia.
Veolia took over the street cleaning duties in the borough with a lucrative deal in 2003. According to sources at Croydon Town Hall, despite various penalty clauses under the contract intended to punish any under-performance, Veolia has never once been fined for non-compliance with keeping the streets clean.
That might just be because the contractors monitor their own performance – there’s no longer enough staff employed by the council to keep a check that Croydon Council Tax-payers are getting their money’s worth.
And with the 35 per cent staff cut in customer services at the council, as revealed by Inside Croydon last week, it will soon be even more difficult for Croydon Council Tax-payers – including Sanderstead resident Barwell – to lodge complaints about service failings because they simply won’t be able to get through on the under-staffed council phone lines.
In his email to residents this week, Barwell, who was a Conservative councillor at the Town Hall until 2010, tells residents, “I know some people feel that given how much we pay in Council Tax they shouldn’t have to spend any of their time cleaning the place up.
“But the reality is that only a small fraction of the tax we pay goes on cleaning (a significant chunk of it goes on paying for very expensive care for a small number of people with profound and multiple needs) and unless we are all willing to pay a lot more, the Council is never going to be able to do it all on their own.”
Barwell goes on to suggest that, despite all Croydon residents and businesses paying for a level of service, that they must now accept a sub-standard performance by the council and their contractors, Veolia: “If everyone took responsibility for the stretch of pavement outside their front door, the borough would be a much better place.”
This is the latest in a series of voluntary events which Barwell has tried to run from his office at Westminster and his constituency, with decidedly mixed results.
At a previous “clean-up” event this year, poor organisation saw a lack of equipment for volunteers, many of whom were left hanging around on street corners, ultimately leading to a serious incident of racial abuse that required the police to attend and saw Barwell issuing an apology to a local mosque.
Veolia’s street cleaning contract with Croydon is due for renewal in 2014.
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