The “ambition” of Tony Newman, Croydon’s new council leader, to make the borough the “cleanest and greenest” in London will be undermined by his own actions once again in the coming days, despite some residents doing as their council asks and taking their discarded Christmas trees to designated recycling points.
Now might be a good time to file a Freedom of Information request to the council to discover just how many dumped old Christmas trees have to be removed from our streets by the council contractors during the bleak days of January and February.
Newman’s promise about a clean borough was made before the election, when it included Labour’s opposition to the building of a waste incinerator. Once in power at the Town Hall, Newman abandoned this “ambition” and simply adopted the previous Tory council’s policy to go along with the Beddington Lane incinerator scheme.
And Newman’s Labour administration has also continued with the Conservatives’ approach to Christmas tree recycling (which actually means chipping), probably because it is just too much trouble for the elected representatives to try to interfere with the course of action which the senior council officials already have in place. Far better for our councillors to distribute a few more T-shirts.
This Tory approach to old Christmas trees ends up being costly for Council Tax-payers, is ineffectual and does little to benefit the environment. It also means that Newman’s Croydon remains a long way behind other, Labour-run councils from being the “cleanest and greenest” in London.
Other Labour-run local authorities, such as Redbridge and neighbouring Lambeth offer a Christmas tree removal service alongside a green waste collection in January. They do this because they know it makes sense – a bit like providing a “bulky items” waste removal service avoids having old mattresses and unwanted sofas fly-tipped on street corners in every neighbourhood.
Under the Croydon system, every Christmas tree that is taken to the recycling centres around the borough (a list of which can be found by clicking here) is likely to require an extra individual journey in a car. Which all creates extra traffic, and additional pollution on what are already some of the most polluted streets in the country. Hardly the act of a “clean and green” borough, is it?
What of those households who don’t own a car (and there are some)? Tough; they have to carry it there, even if you’re an OAP with a back problem. Or simply not bother.
What about those who don’t read the council’s website or Inside Croydon and don’t know of the recycling sites? They won’t take their Christmas tree to the centres, either.
And what about those who refuse to have dropped pine needles on the upholstery of their BMW or Merc?
In short, despite the time, effort and (public) expense in establishing these various centres, our council’s system ends up defeating its own objective. And so we all end up paying for trucks to tour the streets, clearing up the unwanted Christmas trees after all.
Now it may be that Newman and his head of T-shirts, “Clean Street” Stu Collins, will say that they have not had a chance, since being elected more than six months ago, to alter the Christmas tree disposal system that they inherited. So what happened to the “cleanest, greenest” borough “ambition”, which was supposed to transform the state of Croydon’s grimy, litter-strewn streets? For here is a council action which effectively encourages a seasonal fly-tip, just as surely as a Christmas tree drops its needles.
Or it could be just another signal of the inertia within the council head offices at Fisher’s Folly, where the council officials who are really in charge of the borough maintain and reinforce the decisions that they have been making over the past decade.
Coming to Croydon
- Purley and Coulsdon debating society: Philp v Benn, Jan 5
- David Lean Cinema, Mr Turner, Jan 8
- David Lean Cinema, Leviathan, Jan 13
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, The 78 Project Movie, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, Hannah Arendt, Jan 20
- David Lean Cinema, The Imitation Game, Jan 22
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- David Lean Cinema, Night Will Fall, Jan 27 (Holocaust Memorial Day)
- David Lean Cinema, Kon-Tiki, Jan 29
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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