After we’d both had various complaints from residents, some impassioned discussion on Facebook groups, reporting on LoveNewham, taking more photos of the area than I care to remember, chatting with the ward enforcement officer, raising the area as a hotspot at a meeting with a senior enforcement officer…. Seyi suggested and organised a site visit on the junction of Sebert Road and Woodgrange Road.
This area has always been blighted by fly tipping, but over recent weeks it seems to have got significantly worse. It seems to have got worse with the warmer weather (warm weather sadly always seems to mean more litter and more fly tipping), and also we think the road works at that junction aren’t helping as litter from the street is flying into the road works, which makes the place look tatty, which in turn attracts more rubbish as it makes leaving rubbish there seem ‘ok’.
Looking closely at the bags left there, seemingly nightly, they seem to us to be largely residential waste, with a small amount of commercial waste left there too. This means they are probably from the nearby flats above the shops. These flats are ones that have no outside space for a wheelie bin and so are on ‘timed waste collections’. You might notice there is a sign about this up in the middle of the market place. If you have a timed waste collection, this means that you CAN actually leave your rubbish outside… but only in a black bag, on Woodgrange Road (not on Sebert Road) and only from 10 – 11am, or 6 – 7pm, Monday – Saturday (which is to say not all night and all day).
A few weeks ago we spoke with the local enforcement officer, who went and visited the flats to deliver letters reminding them about these arrangements. We also arranged for an additional litter bin to be placed there in response to a resident request. But we were aware that we seemed to be skirting around the edges of a seemingly intractable problem without actually making any progress. Hence Seyi’s plan for a ‘site visit’, to get everyone together in one place to agree some actions.
When we saw the bags of rubbish were there and worse than ever, we had mixed feelings. On the one hand – how awful that it was so bad. On the other hand, – it was difficult not to feel very slightly pleased and justified, as it would have been highly embarrassing to have absolutely insisted that officers from street cleansing, waste management, and enforcement all attended an urgent meeting, only to find the space clean and pristine.
We were really pleased that Mic and Daniel from CoffeE7 came along too, as they have been active in trying to improve this area, and are keen to work with us.
After some discussion we agreed some action points, which we wanted to record here for you:
- The ‘drop off point’ for the street sweepers’ bags of litter will be moved from here to elsewhere. Although these bags should be collected within 24 hours, the bags are obviously exacerbating the problem.
- The rubbish bags there when we met would be picked up immediately (pleasingly, this happened whilst we were having a wrap-up and a coffee afterwards)
- The people who drive the ‘cage’ vehicles to pick up fly tips will be reminded to clear up the litter that is left behind as well (less pleasingly, as I write this, the bags are gone but the litter remains. Something for us to improve here)
- Street cleansing will arrange for a ‘proper’ litter pick around and inside the road works which is not usually cleared of litter. This should make a visual difference and make people less likely to contribute to the litter.
- Enforcement will visit the flats above shops again to remind them about timed waste collections and what they need to do.
- Enforcement will also visit the nearby shops and check that they have a trade waste agreement (which is to say, they’ll check they have proper arrangements to dispose of their waste)
- There is a commercial bin that is left out on the marketplace, unlocked, over the weekend. Enforcement will speak to the business concerned and make sure this doesn’t happen.
- We are going to collect some intelligence about exactly when the rubbish at this spot is dumped so that we can ask the night team to visit and do some enforcement. We have a tentative plan about how to do this by collecting info via social media, but if you have an idea about a good way of doing this, then please let us know.
Basically we think there are several problems here:
– people in flats not knowing when and where they should put their waste…. the visits from enforcement and in the medium-term, the visiting team which is going out across the borough should help with this.
– commercial waste (bins overflowing, some commercial waste being fly tipped)… checking out the local businesses will help here.
– litter (which is more likely to be dropped when the area is untidy to begin with) ….the clear-up that has been promised, plus the additional bin that’s already there may help with this.
We have also arranged a follow up meeting for 3 weeks’ time, to report back to each other and see if we’ve made a difference. We don’t necessarily think we can solve this area entirely, but we do hope that we can make a bit of a difference, and we will keep trying as we are as frustrated by the rubbish here as everyone else is.
As ever, we’ll keep you posted on here and on twitter.