Our Town Hall reporter, KEN LEE, on some long-overdue action being taken with the rubbish contractors who are supposed to be responsible for the state of the borough’s streets
One day after “Mucky Merton”™ issued a Service Improvement Notice to rubbish contractors Veolia, so “Crappy Croydon”™ has done the same, citing “ongoing poor performance”.
In Merton, when roads fall below a certain standard of cleanliness, Veolia is supposed to clean them within 24 hours. According to Merton, the response rate has dropped from 97per cent to just 39per cent.
Merton and Croydon are both members of the South London Waste Partnership which, together with Sutton and Kingston, has contracted with Viridor to operate the incinerator at Beddington and has hired Veolia to empty the bins and sweep the streets.
It has been obvious in Croydon for years, never mind weeks, that Veolia’s service was not up to anything like the standard required. In the past couple of years, there have been various excuses for unreliable bin collections, including, reasonably, covid, and, less-reasonably, an HGV drivers’ shortage.
Croydon’s response, when Stooge Collins was still the council’s deputy leader responsible for the state of the streets in 2020, was to increase the amount paid to Veolia by more than £20million on a contract which had only been inked a couple of years before.
This, we are told, was because of the increase in the number of residents that Veolia’s crews were having to deal with (as if no one at the council had anticipated any growing population around the borough, despite all those new flats they were granting permission to get built).
Croydon’s Service Improvement Notice comes suspiciously soon after Val Shawcross, Labour’s candidate for Mayor, issued a press release today under the heading “Cleaning Up Croydon”. Surely the Labour-controlled council is not working hand-in-rubber-glove with the Labour election candidate, and using public resources to do so?
Croydon’s Labour colleagues in Merton had struck first, though, with their warning shot to Veolia.
Last night, they issued this statement: “Merton Council has issued Veolia UK with a Service Improvement Notice following ‘significant and ongoing concerns’ over the quality of street cleaning services in the borough.
“The authority wrote to Veolia on Monday after seeing no sustainable improvement in street cleanliness over a number of months.
“The company is contracted, through the South London Waste Partnership, to maintain the cleanliness of our roads to the required standard. Roads that fall below the standard must be cleaned within 24 hours of notification. This response rate, within the prescribed period, has steadily fallen from 97per cent to just 39per cent.”
Natasha Irons, Merton’s cabinet member for local environment and green spaces, said: “Over a sustained period of time, Veolia have consistently failed to meet their contractual obligations, and we are not afraid to take action to drive much-needed improvement.
“The council has demonstrated its commitment to clean streets through investment in new mechanical sweepers and pavement washer equipment. Veolia must now match this commitment by addressing their underperformance and our concerns.”
Then, just after 5pm tonight, Croydon followed suit.
“Core concerns include repeated missed rubbish and recycling collections and bin deliveries,” the council said in a statement issued from Fisher’s Folly.
“As with all contracts, the council expects high minimum service standards for residents,” they said. Do try not to laugh.
Croydon’s cabinet member, Muhammad Ali, said, “Veolia have repeatedly failed to hit collection targets. Residents expect better and are understandably frustrated by this continued poor performance.
“We have written to Veolia to outline our concerns and expect them to swiftly respond to set out a clear action plan to address ongoing issues. We appreciate the workforce pressures they have previously cited as a factor, but must see urgent improvement to this core service across the board.”
Veolia has 10 days to respond to both councils, offering an action plan for improvement.
There is a scheduled meeting of the SLWP tomorrow, when the atmosphere between councillors and contractors could also heat up as Viridor press for an increase in the amount of rubbish they are permitted to burn at their polluting incinerator.
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as well as BBC London News and ITV London
- Inside Croydon: 3.3million page views in 2021. Seen by 1.6million unique visitors in that 12-month period