Cleansweep of Thornton Heath exposes Veolia shortcomings

Thornton Heath rubbishThis is a scene in Thornton Heath at lunchtime today. In total, there was another dozen large bags of rubbish swept, picked up and collected by a hardy handful of local residents from the Thornton Heath Community Action Team.

The morning’s efforts by these residents to keep the neighbourhood streets clean are, of course, to be applauded. It is an exercise which is replicated and repeated up and down the borough throughout the year, in wards in the south as well as the north of Croydon, by groups sometimes organised by Labour councillors, sometimes by Conservative councillors.

The question that these clean-ups by such community-minded groups raises is: why is it necessary at all?

The council has a contract for street cleaning with Veolia, after all. So Council Tax-payers – including the community work group in action this morning – are paying for a service through the council and then having to go out and clean up after the service-providers have failed to deliver to an acceptable standard.

According to Veolia’s own website, they were awarded a 15-year contract in 2003. They are clearly a shining example of the shortcomings and risks inherent in local authorities locking themselves in to such long-term deals.

“We are responsible for the cleaning of over 2,678 streets in Croydon,” Veolia state on their website. “The busiest roads in the borough are cleaned on a daily basis; others are swept at least once a week. The remaining roads are cleaned every four weeks.” But to what standard?

The service provided by Veolia has, like so many other council services, been subject to cut backs and reductions across the borough, with fewer visits from roadsweepers to our streets.

What do Croydon's roadsweepers do when they are at work on our streets?

What do Croydon’s roadsweepers do when they are at work on our streets?

And there are, as the picture above demonstrates, bins at the roadside for litter. So there is no excuse for the sort of lazy, casual littering by passers-by which often carpets our streets.

Yet take a look at the second picture, right, taken by the Thornton Heath work party this morning, before they started their session.

That’s not the accumulation of rubbish over just a few days. That will have taken several weeks to build up. The centre of Thornton Heath is, you’d like to think, one of the busiest roads in Croydon which Veolia claims gets cleaned daily.

So has this festering just been ignored by the Veolia roadsweepers? On a daily basis? Until there was enough rubbish to fill 12 bags of other people’s crap?

Under the previous Town Hall administration, Veolia was allowed to self-supervise their work, whether it was bin collections or road cleaning. They checked off their own work.

Who oversaw the roadsweeping of Thornton Heath that allowed this debris and detritus to accumulate?

In all the sloganising and T-shirts issued by the Labour group which now controls the council about making Croydon a clean and green borough, has someone forgotten to check that we’re actually getting what we pay for?


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5 Responses to Cleansweep of Thornton Heath exposes Veolia shortcomings

  1. farmersboy says:

    I live on Haling Park Road and we have a street cleaner every morning. I guess it counts as a busy Street due to all those Whitgift pupils and private pre-school parents running amock. And once someone didn’t clean up after their dog…

  2. I would like to know if Veolia ever receive any penalty deductions. Incompetent at clearing litter and incompetent at clearing fly tips. Many reports are ignored and if they can be arsed to make an attempt, they often leave some behind. Maybe they are paid per visit at taxpayers expense.

    • farmersboy says:

      This is Croydon, of course there’s no penalty, Skanky have been buggering up our street lighting for years. CCURV have failed to deliver. We’ve got an architect department but no one who can write/read a contract…

  3. jamie10000 says:

    The problem is the people who are dropping the rubbish. They just open a packet of whatever and throw the litter as they walk, without a thought of a bin. I see it every day in South Norwood. Young people, children, their parents, adults, everyone. Even in the school playground. It’s ingrained behaviour.
    We can talk all we like about the contractors who have to pick it all up, but they’re not causing the problem. We need to tackle the problem head on. People have to be ‘encouraged’ not to casually drop litter wherever they are. I’m talking about a zero-tolerance approach where we actively pursue and fine people.
    I don’t drop litter, and neither do my 4 children. Why should I pay my council tax so that other people can throw their crap anywhere and have a council paid contractor to clear up after them? It’s a nonsense.

    • Of course people should use the litter bins provided.

      But broken window syndrome suggests that if a neighbourhood is neglected and uncared for, then those passing through it – and even some who live there – will treat it with similar disdain.

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