Sue Harris introduced the report and explained that it was intended to update the committee on the work which had been done since the last report to the PAC. The administration had set up a number of review groups to look at how the service could be improved; these had made recommendations which had been taken up by Serco and the council. Serco had also reviewed their own performance and had developed an action plan. The next step was for Serco and the council to act on the findings, and whilst many recommendations had already started to be implemented there was more to do.
Sue Harris explained that the council had carried out a lot of work in a number of hotspot areas to try to tackle dumping there. These had used a significant amount of resources but had generally led to positive outcomes. As well as improvements in specific areas the overall level of fly tipping had fallen, and the recycling rate had improved slightly.
Councillor Harcourt explained that a lot of work had been done to improve the waste and recycling service. The council had pressed Serco improve and they had accepted that there were some things which they needed to do better. Councillor Harcourt said that the council had also made changes to how the service worked, for example the council had previously investigated even very small fly tips; now Serco would be asked to clear most tips unless they were especially large or they saw evidence which was likely to lead to a prosecution.
The Chair noted that a number of residents had provided information and ideas to the council and asked whether these had been used. Sue Harris explained that residents had provided the council with some really useful information which had helped officers and Serco to work better together.
The Chair asked whether landlords had been receptive to the council’s advice about waste management and storage. Lesley Gates explained that it was often quite difficult to contact landlords but that where this was possible the guidance was generally welcomed. She explained that the guidance was to be put onto the council’s website so that it could easily be accessed.
Councillor Dewhirst asked what the council could do to deal with individual residents who persistently put out their bins on the wrong day. Sue Harris said that there was an enforcement hierarchy for residents identified as not presenting their waste correctly; to begin with officers would write to the resident and put up notices in the area; if that didn’t work officers would look to issue a fixed penalty notice (FPN) although this required clear evidence. Councillor Harcourt explained that the administration was considering whether to raise the FPN value which might deter residents from dumping waste.
Councillor Hamilton asked whether investigation of fly tips was to be reduced. Sue Harris clarified that it would now be focussed on areas where there were particular problems rather than trying to investigate lots of smaller tips.
Councillor Hamilton asked what the role of a town keeper would be. Sue Harris explained that a town keeper would be a street sweeper who was given additional responsibilities to report issues on their patch; she clarified that they would not be given enforcement powers. A resident asked that the town keepers be made responsible for reporting abandoned bicycles; Sue Harris agreed that this was a good idea.
Councillor Cassidy asked whether there was a difference in how long it would take for a fly tip to be collected if it was on a council estate rather than on the street. Andy Stocker said that there might be a slight delay as the process from reporting to collection was slightly longer for dumps on estates, however, he had already begun work to resolve this issue.
Councillor Cassidy asked how effective CCTV cameras were at preventing fly tipping. Andy Stocker explained that they were very useful tools. Where cameras were used overtly they were a strong deterrent. Cameras were also useful in enforcement; so long as they were well positioned they could catch those dumping rubbish ‘red-handed’ which could lead to prosecution. A resident asked whether camera could also be used to enforce traffic regulations, referring to the one way section of Crisp Road. Andy Stocker explained that an additional camera would be installed on Crisp Road soon.
Councillor Hamilton asked whether the reduction in the number of night time enforcement officers to two meant that the service could not be delivered when one of them was on leave. Sue Harris explained that it was hoped that other officers could cover for periods of leave but agreed to look into whether an additional officer could be added to the team to make it more robust.
A resident complained that more needed to be done to deal with rubbish dumping in Avonmore. Sue Harris agreed that the area was quite complex and that there were lots of issues to tackle, although short term residents seemed to be causing most of the problems. Lesley Gates noted that officers were trying to deal with the Airbnb property which was causing many issues. The resident suggested that CCTV cameras and more litter bins were needed. Officers agreed to attend the Avonmore Residents Association meeting in May 2017 to report on progress made in the area.
A number of residents said that they had reported issues to the council which had not been dealt with. Andy Stocker said that if this happened residents could contact him on email@example.com and he would look into the issue.
A resident said that he had previously suggested litter patrols be run to catch those dropping litter; he asked whether the council had investigated this possibility. Sue Harris explained that the council was waiting for a report from Brent on how successful their trial of the service had been.
A resident said that pigeon feeding was becoming a problem in the borough; he was aware of a few people who regularly fed large numbers of pigeons and felt that intervention was needed. He also felt that more signs telling people not to feed pigeons were needed.
A resident noted that the council has recently claimed that the streets were the cleanest they had ever been; he asked that the evidence for this be shared with him. Sue Harris agreed to give him this information outside of the meeting.