Town Hall reporter KEN LEE on how the council has binned the hopes of a Park Hill OAP by first telling him they would remove his unwanted Veolia bins, only to contact him again less than 24 hours later to say that their previous email ‘was a mistake’
Arno Rabinowitz is outraged. And quite rightly, too, after he has been on the receiving end of the latest example of Croydon Council’s crass incompetence.
On Wednesday night, soon after he had watched himself on the BBC regional news bulletin being interviewed about #CroydonBinChaos, Rabinowitz was delighted to receive an official email from Croydon Council stating that his street of small terraced houses in the Park Hill area was to get a reprieve from the invasion of ugly and unwanted Veolia wheelie bins.
Yet tonight, less than 24 hours later, another council email pinged into the pensioner’s inbox, this time to say that the previous message was all a big mistake.
“I’m very sorry to report that my email advising that your property was unsuitable for the new bins was sent in error,” the council operative wrote tonight.
Rabinowitz is understandably upset by the council’s double-U-turn, which he sees as adding bin-sult to bin-jury.
“It’s really incredibly stupid and inefficient, uncaring and sloppy,” he told Inside Croydon tonight.
The latest, hope-dashing email came from a council official called Jacqueline Wallis, who describes herself as the “customer engagement officer, Waste and Recycling Services Team”.
Rabinowitz reckons that he has 150 items of correspondence or noted phone calls to the council’s “contact” centre, to his local councillor and to the residents’ association over the matter of the unwanted bins. “I have to say that every time I contacted the formal answering service for waste, I was dealt with courteously and pleasantly. Not always effectively, but always nicely,” he said.
Of those emails, 25 alone were sent to Wallis’s boss, Tom Lawrence, the “head of environment and leisure”, who is overseeing the blighting bin roll-out.
It was Rabinowitz’s Croydon Commentary article, “Council’s rubbish policy has ruined our street”, published by this website last weekend, which had drawn the matter of #CroydonBinChaos to the attention of BBC London.
Rabinowitz and fellow members of the Park Hill Residents’ Association were interviewed by TV and radio reporters yesterday, as the matter featured extensively on Vanessa Feltz’s morning radio programme and on the early evening regional news bulletin.
Feltz and her production team were already familiar with #SuttonBinShame, having covered that story last year. #CroydonBinChaos, this being Croydon, is just shaping up to being bigger, uglier and probably much more expensive.
Rabinowitz and his neighbours had done everything which the nice people at Veolia and Fisher’s Folly, the council offices, had asked. They had written to the council’s contact address, tried telephoning the constantly engaged number, they had even invited Lawrence round for a cup of tea to see quite how unsuited their small homes are for these large bins.
And while their near-neighbours, across the ward boundary in Addiscombe West, had been listened to and their bins removed, Rabinowitz and his friends and neighbours were left with the puzzle of where to store their unwanted bins without blighting their homes.
Barely had last night’s television report finished, with Rabinowitz invoking Churchillian phrases about resisting the bin-vasion, than there was a “ping” on his email inbox, and a message from the council saying that they were, after all, going to take the unwanted, over-sized and ugly bins away.
The council email, from the Stubbs Mead Depot on Factory Lane, was not signed off by any named council official. But it was quite clear in its message.
“Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention regarding whether your property is suitable to accommodate the additional refuse bin and recycling bin, which have been or are due to be delivered,” the anonymous council official had written.
“We are able to confirm that your property has been deemed as not suitable for receiving the collection service and accompanying bins. Going forward your collections will be undertaken using: The current system.”
So after claiming a small victory for the ordinary resident last night, Rabinowitz was understandably deeply disappointed when, at one minute past five o’clock this evening, he got a second email.
Dear Mr Rabinowitz,
Thank you for your recent correspondence with the Waste Service team.
I’m very sorry to report that my email advising that your property was unsuitable for the new bins was sent in error. At the time I thought that [Rabinowitz’s street] had been assessed as being unsuitable for the new service, but having checked our records I can see that this was not the case.
Please accept my apologies for this mistake.
“I’m too old to get too wound up by this,” Rabinowitz said.
“But this matter will not end here, I can assure you.”
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