WALTHAM FOREST: Street cleaning complaints double

FORMAL complaints about street cleaning have almost doubled since private company Kier took over the contract.

But the council is pleased with the £600,000 saving it has made.

A total of 21 complaints have been lodged since the contract started in June, compared to 12 in the same period last year.

Most of the increase has been in Walthamstow, with five formal complaints in 2007 shooting up to 14 this year.

The numbers could be the tip of the iceberg, as the council was not able to say how many people had made informal complaints by contacting Waltham Forest Direct or other council departments.

The Guardian has received a steady stream of grumbles about the service, with people bemoaning the loss of their local street sweeper and saying their roads were not being cleaned as frequently as before.

This week a pensioner from College Gardens, Chingford, who did not want to give her name, said she had seen only one street sweeper in eight weeks “I phone every day about it because I won’t live with it,“ she said. “For a few years it has been good, we had two lovely men. They did a lovely job but they got the sack because they were agency people.

“Now it’s getting really bad. I spoke to someone at Kier and she said they knew there was a problem with north Chingford but they didn’t have the funding for it.”

And unions are considering action against the company for cutting back overtime and sacking staff.

Waltham Forest Council has admitted there have been “teething troubles” but cabinet member for environment, Cllr Bob Belam, did not think Kier was to blame.

He said: "It is clear that in the lead up to the new contract street sweeping and grounds maintenance services were not as good as they should have been.

“Kier, since taking over the contract, have retrained our staff and have put on extra resources at night and at the weekend to deal with this problem.

“Roads are now getting cleaner and residents will start noticing the difference.”

Cllr Belam said it was important to keep the increase in complaints in context as fewer than one in 10,000 had complained.

Comments (5)

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4:20pm Thu 31 Jul 08

Technomist says...

People making complaints known to the council is not a bad thing. If people complain the council can act on residents' concerns more promptly and ultimately provide a better service. This is to everyone's benefit.
People making complaints known to the council is not a bad thing. If people complain the council can act on residents' concerns more promptly and ultimately provide a better service. This is to everyone's benefit. Technomist
  • Score: 0

4:46pm Thu 31 Jul 08

Mary E17 says...

If Kier are busy retraining the staff they clearly haven't completed the litter bin emptying module yet. What is so good about saving £600.000 if many residents are unhappy with the service and the streets are not noticeably cleaner? I have sent about 20 emails/made about 8 calls to WF Direct since the 2 June.
If Kier are busy retraining the staff they clearly haven't completed the litter bin emptying module yet. What is so good about saving £600.000 if many residents are unhappy with the service and the streets are not noticeably cleaner? I have sent about 20 emails/made about 8 calls to WF Direct since the 2 June. Mary E17
  • Score: 0

9:47pm Thu 31 Jul 08

Cllr Matt Davis says...

The reason that street cleaning in North Chingford is the worst that it has ever been is that the Labour/LibDem Council have deliberately cut back on how often the streets are cleaned in North Chingford, under their new contract with Kier, in order to spend more money in Leyton.

This is truly not Kier's fault, it is primarily that of the Liberal Democrats since the Portfolio Holder who decided to do this is one of their Councillors.

Once again we see North Chingford being discriminated against by the Labour/LibDems in order to spend more of our money in their Leyton heartlands.

This is totally unacceptable and Waltham Forest Conservatives will be fighting this to make sure that the whole Borough gets the street cleansing that it needs and deserves, not just the bits that vote Labour or LibDem.
The reason that street cleaning in North Chingford is the worst that it has ever been is that the Labour/LibDem Council have deliberately cut back on how often the streets are cleaned in North Chingford, under their new contract with Kier, in order to spend more money in Leyton. This is truly not Kier's fault, it is primarily that of the Liberal Democrats since the Portfolio Holder who decided to do this is one of their Councillors. Once again we see North Chingford being discriminated against by the Labour/LibDems in order to spend more of our money in their Leyton heartlands. This is totally unacceptable and Waltham Forest Conservatives will be fighting this to make sure that the whole Borough gets the street cleansing that it needs and deserves, not just the bits that vote Labour or LibDem. Cllr Matt Davis
  • Score: 0

10:12am Fri 1 Aug 08

Morris Hickey says...

Matt

Many years ago Sheffield City Council drew up plans in various service areas that reduced significantly the money spent in the Hallam parliamentary constituency area, in those days the only Conservative-held seat in Sheffield. The council was taken to court where they were judged to be acting illegally by failing to provide a uniform level of service across the whole of the city. Of course, they were able to provide a more intense sweeping service in shopping areas than residential streets and the like.

I believe I am right in saying that the Leader of the City Council then was named Blunkett.....
Matt Many years ago Sheffield City Council drew up plans in various service areas that reduced significantly the money spent in the Hallam parliamentary constituency area, in those days the only Conservative-held seat in Sheffield. The council was taken to court where they were judged to be acting illegally by failing to provide a uniform level of service across the whole of the city. Of course, they were able to provide a more intense sweeping service in shopping areas than residential streets and the like. I believe I am right in saying that the Leader of the City Council then was named Blunkett..... Morris Hickey
  • Score: 0

2:36pm Mon 4 Aug 08

LoveLloydPark says...

The rubbish situation around Hoe Street and leading down to Lloyd Park is unbelievable. Empty takeaway packets are all over the place. Part of the problem is that the council want us to recycle but don't provide bins that are big enough - or even have lids. A lot of the rubbish you see is paper that was put out for recycling but has blown around in the wind because there is no lid for the box.
The rubbish situation around Hoe Street and leading down to Lloyd Park is unbelievable. Empty takeaway packets are all over the place. Part of the problem is that the council want us to recycle but don't provide bins that are big enough - or even have lids. A lot of the rubbish you see is paper that was put out for recycling but has blown around in the wind because there is no lid for the box. LoveLloydPark
  • Score: 0
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