‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
But on Christmas Eve in Croydon, in the middle of a Tier 4 coronavirus lockdown, functionaries from Veolia, the council’s rubbish contractors, were sent out door-to-door to deliver a double-sided sheet of paper that admitted they had ballsed-up the distribution of their annual refuse collection leaflet.
Senior sources at the Town Hall suggest that 24 streets – affecting thousands of residents – had been given the wrong information with the annual leaflet drop, carried out at the start of December.
But hundreds of responses from Inside Croydon readers over the Christmas weekend suggest that many thousands more have not received the annual information leaflet detailing recycling advice and the correct bin day through to the end of 2021.
The sheet that popped through the letterboxes of Croydon homes just a few hours before Santa appeared down their chimneys was, apparently, from Veolia’s “Education, Communications and Outreach Team”. Yes, they have such a thing.
Under the heading: “Incorrect delivery of recycling and waste collection services leaflet”, a nameless Veolia official wrote, “It has come to our attention that we sent you the wrong version of our recycling and waste collection leaflet. You received a leaflet stating the wrong collection day.
“The correct version of the calendar is on the reverse of this letter.
“We apologise for any confusion caused by the delivery of the incorrect leaflet. We thank you for your understanding and your efforts to recycle.”
This last sentence was presumably a reference to the paper recycling bins, which on many Croydon streets will now be full to overflowing with copies of the Veolia Recycling and Waste leaflet with the wrong collection dates.
As you might expect with anything involving public services delivered by Croydon Council or its contractors, the Veolia sheet had nothing as practical or helpful as a contact phone number or email address included for residents to use in the event of any questions or complaints.
The households receiving the leaflets had been instructed that their delivery days were to change from Fridays to Wednesdays. That, it now turns out, was false information It reconfirms the widely-held suspicion that, in so many respects, Veolia doesn’t know what day of the week it is…
Every area of the borough is supposed to receive a bespoke copy of the six-page gatefold leaflet. Collection dates vary from area to area, and it is the council’s, and their contractors’, responsibility to ensure that that information is confirmed or updated at least once a year.
But despite the council’s propaganda department, in a press release issued just before Christmas, claiming that, “A printed leaflet of collection dates until November 2021 has also been delivered to households across the borough”, Inside Croydon has discovered that not only has the wrong leaflets been delivered in some streets, other areas have received no leaflets at all.
And, as you might expect with anything involving public services delivered by Croydon Council or its contractors, it is virtually impossible to reach anyone at the council by phone or email to try to rectify that omission.
“It’s all very well saying that the information is on the council website,” said one short-changed Council Tax-payer. “But even in 2020, not everyone has access to the internet – especially now the council’s closed so many of its libraries. And the council’s website is not exactly a paragon of easy navigation – you really have to search hard to find the right page.
“The leaflet is a handy guide for the refuse collection and recycling services – so not to receive one at all is a serious inconvenience for many residents.”
Inside Croydon has received notifications from the following Croydon streets that residents there have never received the 2020-2021 Veolia Recycling And Waste leaflets. Of course, this may not be an exhaustive list, but it is extensive enough to show that there has been a serious failure in the delivery of this important public information this year:
East Hill, Sanderstead, CR2 0AL
Hartscroft, Forestdale, CR0 9LA
Byron Avenue, Coulsdon, CR5 2JR
Inwood Avenue, Old Coulsdon, CR5 1LP
Dorset Gardens, Thornton Heath, CR4 1LX
Little Roke Avenue, Kenley, CR8 5NN
Selsdon Road, South Croydon, CR2 6PT
Placehouse Lane, Old Coulsdon, CR5 1LA
Pampisford Road, South Croydon, CR2 6DB
Alpine Close, Park Hill, CR0 5UN
Sanderstead Court Avenue, Sanderstead, CR2 9AJ
Orchard Rise, Shirley, CR0 7QZ
Ash Road, Shirley, CR0 8HU
Sangley Road, South Norwood, SE25 6QT
Inglis Rd, Addiscombe, CR0 6QW
Kempton Walk, Monks Orchard, CR0 7XG
Oaks Road, Addington Hills, CR0 5HL
Featherbed Lane, New Addington, CR0 9AD
Havelock Road, Addiscombe, CR0 6QQ
Warren Road, Purley, CR8 1AA
Winchet Walk, Shirley Park, CR0 7YL
Markfield, Court Wood Lane, Forestdale, CR0 9HR
Gravel Hill, Addington, CR0 5BE
Mayday Road, Thornton Heath, CR7 7HP
Langdale Road, Thornton Heath, CR7 7PS
Sandhurst Close, Selsdon, CR2 0AD
Glenthorne Avenue, Shirley, CR0 7EY
Montpelier Road, Purley, CR8 2QF
Addisons Close, Shirley, CR0 8DX
Elliott Road, Thornton Heath, CR7 7QA
Hilltop Road, Kenley, CR3 0DD
Caterham Drive, Kenley, CR5 1JL
Barnards Place, South Croydon, CR2 6DZ
Portnalls Road, Coulsdon, CR5 3DE
Lime Meadow Avenue, Sanderstead, CR2 9AR
Ewhurst Avenue, Sanderstead, CR2 0DJ
Witherby Close, South Croydon, CR0 5SU
Dunley Drive, New Addington, CR0 0RF
Mosslea Road, Kenley, CR3 0DS
Ellis Close, Coulsdon, CR5 1BQ
Orchard Avenue, Shirley, CR0 7NL
Spa Close, South Norwood, SE25 6DS
Selsdon Avenue, South Croydon, CR2 6PP
Ravenshead Close, Selsdon, CR2 8RL
Ross Road, South Norwood, SE25 6SB
Glyn Close, South Norwood, SE25 6DT
Of course, in the absence of the leaflet, many readers had no idea that they had been missed out at all, until they read Inside Croydon.
Some speculated that they had not received a leaflet because they live in the south of the borough, others thought that it was part of the cuts being imposed at Croydon’s bankrupt council.
In fact, neither explanation is true.
The annual leaflet was budgeted as part of Veolia’s service long ago. Thanks to Steve Iles, the council’s woefully under-qualified director of public realm, Veolia recently had their contract value in Croydon generously increased by a tidy £21million. And as the spread of missed deliveries above shows, with addresses from South Norwood to Coulsdon and all points in between, those who have failed to receive a leaflet have missed out in an entirely indiscriminate manner.
It may be that in many of the cases listed above, a single home has not received a leaflet. It is also possible that entire streets have not been leafleted (we have had reports from different addresses on the same road which suggests as much). Some of our readers have checked with neighbours and confirmed that to be the case.
All in all, it means that thousands of Council Tax-payers have not received vital information about one of the few services that the council still provides.
It all seems to be because Veolia have been allowed to cut a few corners and save a few bob by not using Royal Mail to distribute their leaflets.
The result is the latest litany of incompetence and ineptitude shown by the council and its contractors.
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