To receive a report from the Bi-Borough Head of Waste and Street Enforcement outlining how the Council addresses littering and rubbish dumping/flytipping
The Committee received a report from the Head of Waste Management & Street Enforcement presenting the Council’s current and proposed street cleansing initiatives. Officers highlighted that generally there was a disparity between the perception of street cleanliness and the measured performance of the service.
Members sought confirmation from the Cabinet Member whether he still conducted regular walkabouts with Serco, the service provider. Cllr Harcourt confirmed that these still took place regularly, the most recent being less than two weeks ago. He also followed up complaints received by visiting affected himself.
Some members of the Committee expressed concern that the Council appeared to consider littering a lower priority than previously, with the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices dropping from around 100 a month to almost zero. It was also noted that the income from these fines was important in so much as it funded further enforcement activity. Cllr Harcourt explained that generally the amount of littering taking place was decreasing, and so it was natural that the number of fines being issued would also drop. He also emphasised that officers had been diverted from other roles to focus on enforcement to help ensure the borough’s streets were clean. Officers added that initiatives such as the focus on cigarette butts had been so effective that it had become known that the Council fined all offences, so people had learned not to drop their butts. The focus was now on tackling domestic littering rather than on the issuing of fines. Officers confirmed that the Council did not have targets for the number of fines issued, but were instructed to address specific issues identified by residents.
A member of the public highlighted an ongoing problem he was experiencing on the Lakeside estate with rubbish persistently being dumped illegally. CCTV cameras had now been installed, but these had taken nine months to arrive. Cllr Harcourt reported that he had recently visited the estate and had seen it as its worst and he acknowledged the problem. He felt there were a number of contributory issues, such as where the bins were stored, which made it difficult for residents to access them. He undertook to instruct officers to make contact with the landlords to explore resolving the issues. The Committee was informed that the public bins in the road acted as a magnet for illegal dumping and that the designation of the area as hotspot had not appeared to help. Officers stated that the cycle of dumping needed to be broken with publicised prosecutions. The area had now been put onto Serco’s daily rounds to monitor and the information gathered by the member of the public would help the Council prosecute offenders. It was also noted that the communication with landlords needed to improve and that officers were working with colleagues in the Housing department to address this. This was particularly important given the high turnover of tenants in the area.
Members of the public argued that the Council should explore a different approach to domestic rubbish storage, such as underground storage or shared bins at the end of each road, which seemed to work well in Europe. Officers explained that in many countries in Europe, the local council had complete control over all aspects of waste collection and disposal, so it didn’t matter who put their rubbish in the bins. However using such an approach here could allow businesses to dispose of their waste illegally, so such factors needed to be taken into account. It was noted that a similar approach had been used in cities such as Brighton & Hove with mixed results, but the Council could explore the feasibility of a small trial.
Members of the public highlighted that London was a global city with many languages spoken, and as such many residents might not understand the term ‘flytipping’. Officers recognised this and explained that wherever possible Council communications used generic terms such as ‘rubbish’, but that the term ‘flytipping’ could sometimes not be avoided.
That the report be noted.