WALTHAM FOREST: Street cleaning "a very badly run service"

Rubbish bags left lying on the pavement in Green Pond Road

Rubbish bags left lying on the pavement in Green Pond Road

First published in News by

FAILINGS in the way Kier Street Services operate are continuing to be reported by disgusted residents and workers fed up with the mess piling up in their streets.

Michael Webb, 65, of Green Pond Close, off Green Pond Road, Higham Hill, said: “After street sweepers had come along, they bagged up the rubbish and put it in piles. I thought it would be collected later that day, but it didn’t happen.”

The bags were then left for more than a week, Mr Webb said.

Workers at Forward Group, Buckland Road, Leyton, have told a similar story of rubbish going uncollected for long periods of time, and piling up in the street.

Householders in Chester Road, Walthamstow, said street cleaners were doing an “inconsistent” job at best.

Daren Willoughby, 38, chief executive of a property management company and Chester Road Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, said: “One Sunday afternoon, a few weeks ago, all the residents came out in the street and swept it and cleaned it themselves.”

They have petitioned the council to act on these shortcomings and have even contemplated going on a council tax strike.

IN a furious e-mail, a frustrated councillor has joined the chorus of community anger over the standard of street cleaning since Kier took over the contract at the beginning of June.

Cabinet member Geraldine Reardon was responding to a complaint from James Pitman, chairman of the Winns Terrace Residents’ Association, in Walthamstow.

He is angry with Keir over the fact that overflowing street bins close to Lloyd Park are being emptied only fortnightly and the street is not being swept regularly.

Cllr Reardon wrote back to him: “This is a very badly run service.

“Adam (fellow ward Cllr Gladstone) and I have made our views known time and again and have constantly asked about this area with higher than average pedestrian traffic, a busy sweet shop, a lot of children and people often in a party mood.

“We have asked to have the small bins returned. They have not been.

“Short of joining the cleaning staff ourselves, I don't know what else we can do.

“You are right. It is vile and disgusting and I too am fed up with being fobbed off by Bob Belam. Perhaps if his road was this filthy, it would be a different story.”

The Guardian has left messages asking Cllr Reardon to contact us, but with no response.

The problem of filthy streets in the borough have been addressed by Cllr Bob Belam in a statement given after numerous complaints were made about Kier Street Services.

Mr Belam, Cabinet member for environment, said: “We are keeping a close eye on Kier’s progress and possess the power to have the streets re-swept if their work is not up to the rigorous standards expected of them.

“I can assure residents that no part of the borough will be ignored or passed over in our efforts to make Waltham Forest a cleaner place.

“I would like to take this opportunity to ask residents and business owners to deal with their rubbish responsibly and remind them that, should evidence be found that they are illegally dumping refuse or abusing the trade waste system, appropriate action will be taken against them.

“I would urge residents to contact WFD on 8496 3000 if they are unhappy with the quality of the cleaning in their area and we will work to resolve their concerns as quickly as possible.”

Promises have also been made to take action with regard to the complaints received by the Guardian.

* Send reports about your street and photographs if you can to chack@london.newsquest.co.uk.

Comments (7)

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8:37pm Wed 3 Sep 08

Technomist says...

Claire, I admire your optimism. There are hundreds of complaints. To be fair to Bob Belam, he has also actively encouraged them to get a picture of the scale of the difficulties.

I think the situation is still very patchy - sometimes Kier have done a great job (they did round where I lived for a time) but not often or consistently enough around the borough. I know that many complaints and even photographic evidence has been sent to Bob Belam about this. A lot of litter ends up being spread about as a result of the unemptied bins, sometimes by dogs and foxes and often by humans who don't see anyone caring about the place and don't see a place to put their rubbish. Its not helped the streets that it has been windy in the last few days, but the litter bin emptying was certainly not frequent enough before that. It has to be a public health issue - rats have been seen more frequently behind a lot of the shops at the tops of the High Street/Hoe Street area. There are some appalling pockets of rubbish which get allowed to build up. Bob Belam implies that its both residents and business owners, but I think the really worst offenders in the High Street area are certainly businesses. For a flavour the problem of businesses allowing their rubbish to spew out into public spaces, people might like to see the photos on the blogsite "Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest".
Claire, I admire your optimism. There are hundreds of complaints. To be fair to Bob Belam, he has also actively encouraged them to get a picture of the scale of the difficulties. I think the situation is still very patchy - sometimes Kier have done a great job (they did round where I lived for a time) but not often or consistently enough around the borough. I know that many complaints and even photographic evidence has been sent to Bob Belam about this. A lot of litter ends up being spread about as a result of the unemptied bins, sometimes by dogs and foxes and often by humans who don't see anyone caring about the place and don't see a place to put their rubbish. Its not helped the streets that it has been windy in the last few days, but the litter bin emptying was certainly not frequent enough before that. It has to be a public health issue - rats have been seen more frequently behind a lot of the shops at the tops of the High Street/Hoe Street area. There are some appalling pockets of rubbish which get allowed to build up. Bob Belam implies that its both residents and business owners, but I think the really worst offenders in the High Street area are certainly businesses. For a flavour the problem of businesses allowing their rubbish to spew out into public spaces, people might like to see the photos on the blogsite "Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest". Technomist
  • Score: 0

12:03am Thu 4 Sep 08

mdj says...

Mr Belam is encouraging us shortly to take part in a massive clean-up day to show our community involvement and pride in the Borough.
Unfortunately all this achieves is to reward Kier for sacking the 90-odd staff whose efforts would have made the clean-up unnecessary in the first place. I've also heard rumours that Kier will profit by many thousands of pounds for providing the bins and skips for the clean-up exercise. It obviously makes sense for them to have the public clean up for them for nothing, saving them the cost of the wages of the people they have sacked.
Mr Belam is encouraging us shortly to take part in a massive clean-up day to show our community involvement and pride in the Borough. Unfortunately all this achieves is to reward Kier for sacking the 90-odd staff whose efforts would have made the clean-up unnecessary in the first place. I've also heard rumours that Kier will profit by many thousands of pounds for providing the bins and skips for the clean-up exercise. It obviously makes sense for them to have the public clean up for them for nothing, saving them the cost of the wages of the people they have sacked. mdj
  • Score: 0

8:26am Thu 4 Sep 08

Walthamster says...

Council hires firm that sacks cleaners then invites residents to clean up themselves. Could only happen in Waltham Forest!

We had no street-cleaning problems till last year. Why did the council mess around with a service that was working well?
Council hires firm that sacks cleaners then invites residents to clean up themselves. Could only happen in Waltham Forest! We had no street-cleaning problems till last year. Why did the council mess around with a service that was working well? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

9:06am Thu 4 Sep 08

Sigi from Walthamstow says...

Email sent to Cllr Belam and Cllr Sarkar re Street cleaning from local neighbourhood Watch Group coordinator:
Dear Cllr Belam, dear Cllr Sarkar

cc
Neil Gerrard, MP
Cllr Matt Davis

The Bishop's Close Neighbourhood / Watch Group met yesterday (1st September 08) and once again there was a big turnout (17 neighbours plus five apologies).

We met the local Safer Neighbourhood Team, and we discussed local issues.

Street-cleaning was a very big issue.
The problem is that the public bins in our area are often not emptied. (See attached photo).

They are overflowing with rubbish.
Street-sweepers (?) place black bin bags beside the bins.
But the rubbish is not being collected.

Quite a few neighbours, including myself, have repeatedly called WF Direct about it.

As you know Walthamstow Village is a very green, nearly rural, spot here in Walthamstow.
We have many foxes here.
The foxes rip open the black bags and forage in the bins.

Thus the rubbish is strewn all over the place, and the wind carries it into our gardens and hedges.
Rats are becoming a problem, too.
All that is happening because of extremely poor street cleaning.

The situation has become utterly frustrating.
We are forced to live in filth and walk through rubbish.

The village has NEVER been so untidy and so dirty.

The present situation of street cleaning is utterly unacceptable.

Can you please help us?

1) Can you ensure that Kier empties the bins in the road along the Church Lane area on a regular, preferably on a daily, basis.

2) Kier should sweep Church Lane, St Mary's Path and St Mary's Road on a daily basis because those roads and pedestrian pathways are used by thousands of commuters walking either to Walthamstow Central or to Wood Street.
There are also a lot of schools in the area.
Many children walk along our streets and drop litter.
Your help would be very much appreciated.

Yours sincerely
Co-ordinator Neighbourhood Watch Group

Email sent to Cllr Belam and Cllr Sarkar re Street cleaning from local neighbourhood Watch Group coordinator: Dear Cllr Belam, dear Cllr Sarkar cc Neil Gerrard, MP Cllr Matt Davis The Bishop's Close Neighbourhood / Watch Group met yesterday (1st September 08) and once again there was a big turnout (17 neighbours plus five apologies). We met the local Safer Neighbourhood Team, and we discussed local issues. Street-cleaning was a very big issue. The problem is that the public bins in our area are often not emptied. (See attached photo). They are overflowing with rubbish. Street-sweepers (?) place black bin bags beside the bins. But the rubbish is not being collected. Quite a few neighbours, including myself, have repeatedly called WF Direct about it. As you know Walthamstow Village is a very green, nearly rural, spot here in Walthamstow. We have many foxes here. The foxes rip open the black bags and forage in the bins. Thus the rubbish is strewn all over the place, and the wind carries it into our gardens and hedges. Rats are becoming a problem, too. All that is happening because of extremely poor street cleaning. The situation has become utterly frustrating. We are forced to live in filth and walk through rubbish. The village has NEVER been so untidy and so dirty. The present situation of street cleaning is utterly unacceptable. Can you please help us? 1) Can you ensure that Kier empties the bins in the road along the Church Lane area on a regular, preferably on a daily, basis. 2) Kier should sweep Church Lane, St Mary's Path and St Mary's Road on a daily basis because those roads and pedestrian pathways are used by thousands of commuters walking either to Walthamstow Central or to Wood Street. There are also a lot of schools in the area. Many children walk along our streets and drop litter. Your help would be very much appreciated. Yours sincerely Co-ordinator Neighbourhood Watch Group Sigi from Walthamstow
  • Score: 0

9:58am Thu 4 Sep 08

dbisping says...

Again another classic 'Spin' answer from the council, more often than not they have to have a dig back at the people paying their wages!, 'appropriate action will be taken against them. ' why not do that to Kier instead!
Again another classic 'Spin' answer from the council, more often than not they have to have a dig back at the people paying their wages!, 'appropriate action will be taken against them. ' why not do that to Kier instead! dbisping
  • Score: 0

12:04pm Fri 5 Sep 08

TB says...

It seems to me that Waltham Forest Council never aspire to excellence in anything and are always more than happy to settle for second best and shoddy. Same with the Kier contract where saving money seems to be the most important issue, not a pleasant environment. Nobody is prepared to take responsibility for all the mess on our streets. On his website (1/9/2008) Cllr. Bob Belam criticises the cleanliness of streets in his own ward and wonders where a particular street cleaner has disappeared to. If he can’t get answers or a decent level of service what hope is there for us? Surely he must have some kind of working relationship with Kier which extends beyond him requesting that a street is cleaned again? At the last community council meeting I went to the Asst. Director of Public Realm attended (Keith Hanshaw). He said he could not believe how much rubbish there was in WF and how there was ongoing poor practice in leaving council refuse bags next to litter bins. That was almost two months ago and nothing has changed. I have submitted a formal complaint to the council/Kier but I have received no response to date (breaching their own corporate complaints procedure).
It seems to me that Waltham Forest Council never aspire to excellence in anything and are always more than happy to settle for second best and shoddy. Same with the Kier contract where saving money seems to be the most important issue, not a pleasant environment. Nobody is prepared to take responsibility for all the mess on our streets. On his website (1/9/2008) Cllr. Bob Belam criticises the cleanliness of streets in his own ward and wonders where a particular street cleaner has disappeared to. If he can’t get answers or a decent level of service what hope is there for us? Surely he must have some kind of working relationship with Kier which extends beyond him requesting that a street is cleaned again? At the last community council meeting I went to the Asst. Director of Public Realm attended (Keith Hanshaw). He said he could not believe how much rubbish there was in WF and how there was ongoing poor practice in leaving council refuse bags next to litter bins. That was almost two months ago and nothing has changed. I have submitted a formal complaint to the council/Kier but I have received no response to date (breaching their own corporate complaints procedure). TB
  • Score: 0

11:13am Sat 6 Sep 08

HMRC says...

I find it strange that LBWF found a commercial company able to provide a service which cost £600K less than it cost them and expected the same quality of service to be provided. When I complained about the lack of service I was told new rotas were being worked out. Why did not old rotas apply until new rotas had been finalised? The only reason must have been a lack of staff which had been cut due the new contract. Surely councils should only sign new contracts where existing quality standards are still met.
I find it strange that LBWF found a commercial company able to provide a service which cost £600K less than it cost them and expected the same quality of service to be provided. When I complained about the lack of service I was told new rotas were being worked out. Why did not old rotas apply until new rotas had been finalised? The only reason must have been a lack of staff which had been cut due the new contract. Surely councils should only sign new contracts where existing quality standards are still met. HMRC
  • Score: 0
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