Public asked how to improve the council’s rubbish service

Our Town Hall reporter, KEN LEE, on a council consultation that appears to be an exercise in stating the bleedin’ obvious 

Load of rubbish: costly ‘Big Belly bins’ have done little to improve the state of Croydon’s streets

The council’s £81,000 per year Tory Mayor wants residents to “shape” its outsourced rubbish services.

Mayor Jason Perry says that cleaner streets are one of his “top priorities”, although there’s been no sign of any improvement in the state of the borough’s streets since he was elected last May, even though Croydon had given rubbish contractors Veolia a £21million “uplift” to their already generous deal in 2021.

A decision has been made by Croydon and the three other councils who comprise the South London Waste Partnership to sack under-performing Veolia – and they have given the contractor almost three years’ notice of the termination.

Veolia has been running Croydon’s bins and street cleaning service since 2003.

They were awarded an eight-year deal across the SLWP boroughs – Croydon and Merton, plus Sutton and Kingston – in 2017. The switch quickly led to complaints over a reduction in standards of service in Merton and Sutton, giving rise to their very own hashtags of #MuckyMerton and #SuttonBinShame, and ultimately to the takeover of many of Croydon’s pavements through #Binmageddon.

When signed, the contract was worth “over £209million”, according to Veolia, and included the possibility of two eight-year extensions. Not that any of those will ever be activated.

Binmageddon: Croydon’s street scene has been scarred by ranks of wheelie bins since the disastrous 2017 Veolia contract

Croydon Council last week began a six-week consultation, asking long-suffering residents to “get involved in shaping a new proposal for rubbish, recycling, and street cleansing services ahead of the current contract with Veolia ending in 2025”.

What is required shouldn’t be rocket science… The answers expected ought to be pretty obvious, though neither Tories nor Labour when they’ve been in charge of the Town Hall have ever managed to get a significantly reliable service out of their rubbish contractor. Most residents, and residents’ associations, hold the view that after a decade of Tory austerity policies and cost-cutting, Croydon’s streets are grubbier than ever before.

“The current service includes recycling, general rubbish collection, garden waste, food waste, bulky waste collections, street cleansing and fly-tip removal,” the council says.

What the cash-strapped council won’t say is that, of course, there will not be any additional money available to help deliver the kind of service that a borough the size of Croydon needs, or deserves.

The council wants residents “to give their views on the current service and what Croydon should prioritise in a new contract. This feedback will be used to help design a proposal for what services the council will be looking for from potential bidders”.

The online survey can be accessed via the council website, and printed copies and a large font version are available by request by calling the council at 020 8726 6000, 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

The survey is open until February 25.

Read more: Croydon and three other boroughs to bin Veolia rubbish deal
Read more: #Binmageddon: Under-performing Veolia hit with warnings
Read more: #Binmageddon: Council admits Veolia’s failing on the job
Read more: Careful what you wish for as we bin rubbish contractor Veolia

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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10 Responses to Public asked how to improve the council’s rubbish service

  1. Jim Bush says:

    Croydon Council demonstrating just how out of touch they are, by needing residents to tell them what is wrong with their (rubbish) rubbish collection service. How many inidivual points can you raise on a consultation submission about the bin collection shortcomings of Unpredictably Unreliable Veolia ?

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    I have to laugh – To have an awful lot of peoples time being wasted on meaningless fatuous digital consultations that will be binned when it does not give the answers they want has become the norm and thats whenever they decide to actually consult or even communicate.

    Croydon Council should look at all the complaints and issues over the last 5 or just review IC in that time. and then comsult with reasonable options on how to prevent this in future!

    It takes no great insight to state what a minimum standards should be in an emergency or at unusual periods – This Council under Perry failed to even do that this holiday season.

    We should not be surprised it wants to know what normal service looks like as they have not done it in so long their Corporate memory has severe recall issues.

  3. Lewis White says:

    The sides of many streets and large areas of their footways are covered with a skin of pulped and dried leaves and twigs, which are slippery underfoot when wet, and block the road gully gratings, so that water flows on and on downhill without going down every gully.

    I was wondering (since leaf-fall in Novemver) when/ if the council contractor Veolia would send out mechanical sweepers and people to remove the pulp. Has it any footway-sized mechanical sweeperrs that could deal with footways?

    Today– somewhere in South Croydon, I not only saw one such sweeper and its human driver working (effectively) on a de-leafing a trelined road but another real person chipping away and sweeping to remove stuff too intrcatibke for the machine to brush up.

    Fantastic ! but how many such teams does Veolia operate?. This should have been done in late October/ early November, once the vast majority of street trees and overhangning trees growing in front gardens have shed their leaves.

    I assume that the Council does have a specification setting out a list of all roads and footways to be swept, and a timetable for their clearance…. or does it?. Or did it? But maybe now can’t afford to do it?

  4. When councillors no longer feel the need to have their pictures taken doing litter picks, we’ll know we’ve got truly cleaner streets and parks.

  5. Mr Paul D Reitman says:

    Perhaps the one thing that I find irritating and depressing in equal parts is the fact that we seem to rely on paying someone to clean up the mess that WE leave behind. Most people keep their homes clean and free from rubbish but as soon as we are away from our personal spaces, we feel free to leave our detritus on the street. Have we lost any sense of pride in our surroundings? I regularly see broken bottles, items of furniture, filled black bags that the local wildlife has torn open, filled babies nappies simply abandoned for “someone else” to clear up. Perhaps a campaign to educate the rubbish-creating public and install some pride in their surroundings is called for in order to give Veolia or their successor a bit less to do.

    • Most of the litter on our streets comes sponsored by global corporations like McDonald’s, KFC, Interbrew, Coca-Cola, etc.

    • Liam Johnson says:

      I completely agree. Many Croydon residents have absolutely no respect for the area, the amount of times I’ve seen people just throwing litter in the middle of the street is a joke.

      Obviously the council are a massive issue but residents need to take some of the blame.

  6. Sarah Bird says:

    What exactly are the very well paid staff at the council employed to do ?.Why are the residents expected to tell the Council what it needs.? The evidence is plain to see. If the staff cannot undertake the necessary work why are they employed? Jason Perry whose tenure as Mayor and leader , in my view, has shown no improvement at any level in Croydon ,in almost a year ,despite numerous heavily criticized independent reports .A view shared by many . Jason Perry was a councilor for many years together with numerous long standing other councilors .The litter problem has not suddenly occurred and neither have many of the outstanding problems. The council is appallingly run. A 100% bad rating on Trust Pilot verifies this, as do the independent reports .

  7. Michelle Ann says:

    I feel in all fairness that I should say I have not had any problems with my bin service. I know other people have, but has any research been carried out on the extent and type of problems? I do agree though that more extensive street cleaning is needed.

    • The metrics are there, Michelle (not that the council has always been keen to share the figures with the public they are supposed to serve…). Every missed bin collection that gets reported is logged and registered.

      As we have previously reported, extensively, “significant and ongoing concerns” with Veolia’s performance were given as the reasons for three councils giving the contractor a Service Improvement Notice last year.

      Muhammad Ali, Croydon’s cabinet member at the time, said, “Veolia have repeatedly failed to hit collection targets. Residents expect better and are understandably frustrated by this continued poor performance.”

      In Merton, Veolia was supposed to maintain the cleanliness of roads to a contracted, required standard. Roads that fall below the standard must be cleaned within 24 hours of notification. The response rate had fallen from 97per cent to just 39per cent.

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