Rubbish_barclays

Rubbish problems blamed on budget cuts

We’ve discussed the rubbish problems recently; here’s what Cllr Phil Jones, Camden cabinet member for the environment, wrote in response to WHAT‘s recent enquiries about the problems both with recycling and fly-tipping. He cited three issues and mentioned a new initiative starting next week to help tackle the fly-tipping:

The introduction of the wheelie bins combined with changed collection days and new recycling arrangements (co-mingled recycling) impacted negatively on the service. Complaints rose significantly, as anticipated, in line with experience in other boroughs, as the Veolia staff didn’t know the rounds and were dealing with a new system. This should now have settled down. I can tell you that we are on track to make our anticipated financial savings and are already seeing increased levels of recycling.

Street cleansing budgets were cut 40% due to the £83.5 million of cuts targeted at Camden by the coalition government (far higher than richer, rural areas). This means streets are swept less often that they used to be. Additional money for street cleansing must be taken from other services. The council is now expecting £70 million of additional cuts to be found over four years from 2014/15 due to further extra cuts targeted at Camden by the coalition government (again far higher than richer, rural areas). The extra cuts will be front loaded and will have a big impact on services from 2014 onwards.

Street environment services staffing has been revamped in the last few months. The objectives included a) creation of a new education and enforcement team, b) increasing the skill levels of staff, c) improving contract management of Veolia. This meant that some staff were made redundant, others were demotivated for a period, and new staff had to get used to their roles. This process also had a negative impact on the services provided but is also now nearing completion. Officers should be responsive to problems and respond when issues are identified.

We are launching a new ‘Clean Camden’ enforcement campaign on 6 November. This will target fly tipping, dog fouling, littering etc. Officers will be targeting hotspots to fine people caught doing any of these environmental crimes. It will not stop these problems from occurring, so it is important to be realistic. It should highlight the unacceptability of such actions and send a warning to those who flout the law. We also need to gain more evidence on who is committing these crimes so people will be encouraged to send information to the council.

This last point is encouraging for people who are sick of their streets being strewn with debris. I think it’s easy to understand that budget cuts will have an impact on all manner of services, but when there are already laws in place that are meant to prevent some of the resulting problems, it seems strange that it takes a special initiative to enact them.

  • Robert Carruthers

    £83.5m is 9.5% of Camden's current year budget of £878m, so why are they cutting street cleaning by 40%? Cuts have to be made because of the mess Labour left the national finances in in 2010, with a huge deficit.

    It's all about priorities and Camden Labour have got theirs all wrong.

  • Anonymous

    A commendably candid response from Phil Jones. The Tory/Lib Dem coalition is slashing the budgets of councils like Camden; street cleaning is hardly the most important issue the council has to deal with; you should be realistic about the impact they’re going to be able to have on this kind of stuff.

    Honestly, quite a lot of Camden residents have real problems at the moment. We have people out of work, people being hit by the bedroom tax, people going to food banks so they and their families can eat. These are the issues the council need to use their limited resources to address. Anyone who thinks a crackdown on fly-tipping ought to be higher on their list of priorities should take a long look in the mirror.