Croydon’s rubbish contractors, Veolia, want to axe almost half of the street cleaners it employs in the borough, according to a report from a Guildford-based newspaper.
Nearly 40 jobs could go, if proposals included in a staff consultation discussed at the council’s Factory Road depot last week are agreed.
The road sweepers would lose their jobs in the weeks immediately before the local elections, on May 3, with some of their work to be replaced with high-tech sweeping vans and street vacuums.
Croydon has outsourced its bin collections and road-sweeping service to Veolia since 2003. From next month, Croydon is to be locked in to another six-year contract with Veolia, part of a cost-cutting deal arranged by the Labour-controlled council through the South London Waste Partnership, with Sutton, Kingston and Merton.
The Croydon Advertiser reports that according to a document it has obtained, the number of barrow street sweepers based in Croydon is set to fall from 73 to 34 as soon as next month. Overall, the restructure would see the number of employees at the Stubbs Mead depot cut from 135 to 102.
According to the Advertiser, “The presentation states that the move would allow the company to ‘deliver more with less’ and ‘operate within a tighter budget’.”
The newspaper does not report whether the document mentions anything about providing a better service.
The trucks and vacuums have been rolled out across the borough since last year as part of a £1.3million council “investment” in equipment. They already operate on areas in East Croydon, New Addington and Fieldway, Beulah Hill, the town centre, Broad Green and Norbury. The council claims that they “collect litter more efficiently”.
In a press release issued last year, the council claimed, “The vacuums are more versatile than brushes and barrows, and even collect waste stuck between kerbs and parked cars.” Whoop-de-whoop!
“The council plans to roll out 25 of these vacuums in total at locations around the borough by March,” the Labour-controlled council’s press release stated last November, without mentioning the probability of nearly 40 job cuts.
“We’re investing a lot of money in this new equipment to make Croydon’s streets even cleaner and tidier for everyone in the borough, and I look forward to even more areas getting these efficient and eye-catching vacuums,” was the unlikely sounding quote attributed at the time to Stuart Collins, the Labour council’s cabinet member responsible for the state of the borough’s streets.
The new deal with Veolia, which runs through to 2024, is intended to save the council £5million per year, as central government austerity cuts bite ever deeper into the services that can be delivered by local authorities.
Veolia confirmed to the Advertiser that the jobs cut document it had obtained was genuine. “We are currently in consultation with staff on a proposed restructure to the way we deliver our street cleansing services,” the paper quoted a spokeswoman as saying.
“New technologies and mechanical operations will also be introduced to increase the efficiency of the service, so that a high standard of street cleansing can be carried out across the borough.
“We do not envisage redundancies for permanent employees, but will be reducing the requirements for agency staff.”
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The sweeping vans simply go down the centre of the road, where there is rarely any rubbish, and go nowhere near the gutters due to heavy road side parking. We have known that these road sweepers were a complete waste of time in most roads for many decades, and that only people can effectively sweep the accumulated rubbish (most of which is spills from our refuse collectors) from our gutters and pavements. They used to work with mechanical sweeping machines by sweeping rubbish into the centre of the road ahead of the sweeping machines which can only do the centre lines. However, bad management meant that they usually did this a day before the rufuse collectors had spilled the rubbish on our streets and pavements. Although Veolia come under some warranted criticism (especially as employers) I believe the current staff collecting rubbish in my area are doing a much better job with cleanliness than in the past. Dare I say it, a very good job.