The reintroduction of bulky waste collections free of charge from Croydon Council, announced at this week’s Town Hall cabinet meeting, comes after lobbying from Inside Croydon.
The decision reverses a penny-wise, pound-foolish austerity cut applied by the previous Conservative administration.
The free collections will also provide the borough’s law-abiding private landlords with a useful additional service in return for their licensing fees, and so should see fewer mattresses and discarded bits of furniture dumped on our pavements in the expectation that the Fly-tipping Fairy will come along and whisk them away, as if by magic.
Stuart Collins, the Labour-run council’s cabinet member responsible for street cleaning, together with other senior councillors, were approached by Inside Croydon in November with the commonsense policy initiative. The free collections could end up paying for themselves by reducing the existing money spent on sending out vans to pick up dumped domestic items. Offering a free service to Croydon residents also removes any excuse that fly-tippers might have had for discarding domestic rubbish in an anti-social manner.
“This initiative gives a minority of residents who fly-tip fewer excuses not to get rid of their waste responsibly like everyone else does,” Collins told the cabinet meeting, echoing the briefing from Inside Croydon.
“This also gives an extra incentive for even more residents to sign up and join the thousands of households that already use our good-value bulky waste collection service.”
Every household in the borough will now have up to three free bulky waste collections each year.
When discussed with Collins last year, the initial thought was to trial the scheme in two or three wards, to test its effectiveness and popularity and monitor the cost implications. Now, Collins says, the service will come in from April – just ahead of May’s local elections. Which is handy.
With so many people living in furnished, private flats, landlords routinely have to replace key items each time they get a new tenant. Old mattresses left out on the streets have become a commonplace sight. This free service should help to reduce and hopefully eliminate that scourge. And landlords who fail to make good use of the free collections could face even sterner penalties under the licensing scheme.
Currently residents pay the council £10 every time they want up to seven items of bulky waste to be disposed of, from bed frames to washing machines. Collecting eight to 14 items costs householders £20 a time.
The council says that, of almost 200 prosecutions under its Don’t Mess With Croydon clampdown since 2015, several involved offenders who had dumped bulky waste such as furniture. White goods are also fly-tipped in Croydon by residents trying to dodge paying for the collection.
The three free collections can be for up to two bulky waste collections, and one white goods collection for items like fridges or dishwashers.
There is, though, a snag.
To qualify for these free collections, residents will have to sign up online to the council’s bulky waste service via the unreliable MyAccount system.
Having a more detailed register of bulky waste collections is also expected to make it even easier for council staff to investigate large fly-tips, the council claims.
With those Town Hall elections coming up, the Labour-run authority is also pushing through other spending announcements, including recruiting 20 additional enforcement officers, increasing the number of staff patrolling the streets by 50 per cent.
Council enforcement officers deal with anti-social behaviour and seek to protect the quality of the local environment; they can issue fixed penalty notices and on-the-spot £60 fines for littering, spitting and even dropping a cigarette butt, as well as larger scale offences such as fly-tipping.
“At a time when public services are under such pressure we hope that increasing our visible uniformed presence on our streets provides reassurance – supporting residents who are doing the right thing by ensuring that those who don’t, face the consequences,” said Hamida Ali, the cabinet member for enforcement officers and stuff.
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