Our Town Hall correspondent, KEN LEE, reports on the latest contentious move by the council’s rubbish contractors
The roll-out of new household refuse bins and a new cycle for emptying them, due to begin next month, will see the council’s rubbish contractors not bother emptying households’ domestic rubbish and recycling for at least three weeks.
That’s the shocking admission in a letter which is being distributed around the borough this week from contractors Veolia and Croydon Council.
“That just stinks!” one disgruntled Council Tax-payer told Inside Croydon.
The letter, which is dated “August 2018”, is unsigned, apparently from an anonymous operative at what Veolia UK calls its “communications and education outreach team”. So clearly there’s some corporate reluctance to take responsibility for the information contained in the letter.
“For more than three weeks, in the late summer, household rubbish, babies’ used nappies, kitchen and food waste, and goodness knows what else, is going to be sitting outside our home, festering in the heat, attracting flies, maggots and vermin. How can anyone justify a withdrawal of this service for ’21 days or more’, just while they get themselves organised?
“I shall be writing to Stuart Collins asking for a refund of one month’s Council Tax because of this,” the resident said, referring to the Labour-run council’s cabinet member responsible for the refuse service.
The letters follow a summer-long council “consultation”, with a number of roadshows staged around the borough to advise and inform residents of how Veolia and the council’s new bin system is supposed to work.
But residents who have attended the roadshows report that there has never been any mention of a three-week hiatus in rubbish collections during September.
And the latest letters have been distributed, it seems, without any advance notification being given to some of the councillors who represent the wards affected.
When a similar bins service was introduced by Veolia in Sutton in April 2017, it took more than six months before residents’ bins were being collected regularly and reliably again, although some complaints continue still, 18 months later. It earned the service a social media hashtag, #SuttonBinShame.
The failure of Veolia to make any bin collections for nearly a month across Croydon during one of the hottest summers on record could have far worse repercussions, prompting a hashtag of its own: #CroydonBinCrisis.
Veolia are simultaneously introducing a new bin collection system in nearby Merton, another one of the boroughs in the South London Waste Partnership, which is claiming that the changes in collections will save Croydon £5million per year.
But the imposition of two additional wheelie bins on households has proved to be deeply unpopular with thousands of residents, especially those living in flats or on smaller terraced streets.
In an entirely unscientific poll conducted by Inside Croydon over the past month, half of respondents – 49.9 per cent – said they would refuse to accept the new bins being foisted upon them by the council and Veolia. Only 35 per cent said they would do what Collins and the council wants, and accept the new bins. And 15 per cent expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposals by responding: “See you in court, Tony Newman”.
And all those responses, of course, was before the latest letter to excuse a shabbier than usual service from Veolia and the council.
The letter begins: “I am writing to you with important information about your current fortnightly recycling and waste collection.” This bit is in bold type, so it must be really important.
“As you move from the current collection timetable to the new service, which starts in September, there will be a gap of 21 days or more between some of your collections. For this reason, you will be eligible for a special one-off collection of your general waste and paper and card.
“The additional collection will be over the weekend of Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August. So please put your general waste (non-recyclable waste) and paper and card out by 6am on Saturday 25 August for collection over that weekend. Please return your containers back to your property after they have been emptied.”
August 25 to 27 is the weekend of the late summer bank holiday, when many families may already have plans to be away. The letters, delivered with less than a fortnight’s notice, will have been dropping on doormats of some households while the residents are away for their annual holiday.
From the councillors contacted by Inside Croydon, it is clear that they had been given no more advance warning of the three weeks of non-collection than any of the borough’s residents.
“I suppose having the extra collection over a bank holiday weekend is better than not having one at all,” one Town Hall source said. “Not sure whether council officers or Veolia came up with this idea.”
Another councillor said, “This is the first I’ve heard about it. It is clearly less than ideal.”
The last full council meeting was staged at the Town Hall on July 9. There now is not another meeting of the council – when public questions about the withdrawal of the rubbish collection service might be asked – until October 8.
Refuse collection is a statutory service, which local authorities are required to provide by law. Collins and Newman, and the council CEO Jo “We’re Not Stupid” Negrini, may therefore, face some serious questions about whether this withdrawal of the service, for “21 days or more”, means that Croydon Council has failed to fulfill its statutory duties.
- This piece of genuinely original local democracy reporting was brought to you without a penny of subsidy from the BBC. If you want to support local journalism, based in the borough, sign up today as an Inside Croydon supporter
- Inside Croydon Events: for the most comprehensive community events listings, updated daily
Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon is the borough’s only independent news source, and still based in the heart of Croydon
- 1.4 MILLION PAGE VIEWS IN 2017
- “Monitored” by the council CEO since 2010
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2017: Inside Croydon was source for two award-winning nominations in Private Eye magazine’s annual celebration of civic cock-ups
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at email@example.com