Now the clean-up begins.
Though with Veolia struggling to fulfil their commitments to collect refuse from residents across three south London boroughs, the post-Christmas clear out looks like taking much longer than usual.
Residents in Croydon who had new, smaller, wheelie bins imposed upon them by the council and their rubbish contractors last September, are becoming increasingly anxious that all their Christmas waste might be ignored by Veolia, as the binmen apply new rules which insist that they don’t need to empty any bins which are full to overflowing.
“No one told us about this new rule when they delivered the new bins,” one resident in Shirley told Inside Croydon. “Yet now, we haven’t had our bins emptied since before Christmas, and our smaller landfill bin is full up.”
A special, revised collection schedule was issued by the council and Veolia before the Christmas holidays.
But Inside Croydon has received reports from several neighbourhoods to suggest that Veolia’s bin collections in the week before the New Year were haphazard, at best.
And since New Year’s day, as the rubbish collections are supposed to return to the regular schedule, more householders have been left waiting with piles of cardboard and paper recycling and full-to-the-brim landfill bins left on their doorsteps.
“They’ve simply just not turned up,” one resident in Waddon said.
“We pay our Council Tax, and we don’t get a reliable service. The bin collections had only just settled down after they changed them in September, but now we’ve gone three weeks, and nothing.”
The new bins were introduced across the borough last summer, part of a revision of service provided under a deal negotiated through the opaque and unaccountable South London Waste Partnership, which comprises Kingston, Sutton, Merton and Croydon.
There was never any public consultation about the new service conducted in Croydon, and although plans were well advanced to introduce the scheme in April 2018, it was kept firmly under wraps until after the local elections were held in May.
Under contracts negotiated with Veolia on behalf of all four councils, each borough is supposed to save £5million a year on its waste collection and street cleaning services.
At a cost to Council Tax-payers of £2.3million, thousands of householders in Croydon were issued with new, 180-litre bins for their unrecyclable, uncompostable landfill waste. These bins are one-third smaller than their previous landfill bins, and so logically are liable to become full more quickly. Stuart Collins, the Labour council’s cabinet member for fly tipping and dirty streets, reckons that having smaller bins will make Croydon residents more likely to recycle.
The evidence, so far, is that the opposite is in fact the case.
With landfill collections only being made from households only once a fortnight (if we’re lucky), the over-full smaller wheelie bins are increasingly being left unemptied by Veolia’s bin men, on the basis that their lids are not properly closed. The result is an increase in fly tipping of domestic waste.
“People are just dumping their bin bags on street corners now,” one angry Fairfield resident told Inside Croydon. “What else are they supposed to do with them if Veolia won’t take then?
“The foxes get into them overnight, and there’s mess everywhere. If we’re lucky, a roadsweeper might come along a few days later. But otherwise, there’s just even more rubbish on our streets. It’s disgusting.”
With infrequent and unreliable service from Veolia since mid-December, many others have encountered similar issues in the past week to 10 days.
Town Hall sources suggest that Labour ward councillors are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of casework and complaints that they are having to field as a result of the Binmageddon changes. The sneeky way in which the closed lids rule was announced – after most households had accepted the smaller bins – is proving a particular cause of concern among Tony Newman’s usually quiet backbenchers.
And the disruption to the rubbish service over Christmas seems to have made an already creaking system worse, with families generating more rubbish than usual, and Veolia managing to miss more collections than normal.
The council’s reporting mechanism for missed bin collections, especially over the holiday period, remains non-existent, with the call centre on reduced hours and the MyCroydon CrapApp v2.0 still without any category for reporting missed collections. With the public effectively prevented from reporting Veolia’s failed service, Collins has been able to claim the success of only 1 per cent missed collections.
On top of all that, next week the council’s (excellent, in theory) free collection and recycling of disused Christmas trees is due to begin, when thousands of dead trees will be left on the pavements of Croydon in the hope that someone might take them away. Happy new year! Trebles all round!
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