Waltham Forest Borough Council's to spend more money to improve street cleaning by Kier

First published in News by

THE council is plunging more than £500,000 into street cleaning after complaints about a sub-standard service.

Last year the council was receiving between 70 to 80 complaints a week about the street cleaning service provided by contractor Kier, half of which were about refuse sacks stacked by bins and fly-tipping.

The council now proposes to change its £6.4million a year contract with Kier to have two extra 'clear-all' teams on weekdays and three more on Sundays, in an effort to reduce the response time for removing rubbish and minimise complaints made by residents.

The annual cost to the council will be £517, 138 - just shy of the £600,000 annual saving the council trumpeted as a reason for taking out the contract with Kier.

But while residents welcome the extra teams, some residents who have been complaining to the council about litter since the Kier contracted started say that the council needs to be tougher with Kier.

Joe Wade, of Grove Road, Walthamstow, said: "In general I think more funding is a good thing, but only if Kier are going to be well managed. I walk past litter that has sometimes been there for three days, so they are not doing a particularly good job.

"I think the council's enviro-crime campaign has been a waste of money because the council needs to sort out the contractors first and get them into line and then try to get people to keep the streets clean."

Dr Sieglinde Dlabal, of Bishop's Close, in Walthamstow, said: "I think it is an appalling service and it brings down the area. They need to improve the street cleaning because there is a strong connection between dirty streets and crime and there have been lots of studies about that. There is still a long way to go."

But cabinet member for environment, Cllr Bob Belam, said that since this time last year, when a petition signed by residents was handed to the council calling for them to end the contract with Kier, fewer complaints are being received - as little as 80 in two months.

Cllr Belam said he has no regrets about contracting Kier and that the council has no intention of breaking the remaining four-year contract or returning the service in-house because, he says, the council no longer has the capacity.

He said: "We have amended the the contract and the way they work. Issues will arise around their way of working and we make changes. Many of the people who complained have stopped because we have concentrated on their areas.

"I think in the 14 months Kier has improved, but there are still more improvements that can be made.

"I think this is the final piece in the jigsaw. Latest results show the best service we have had. There will always be operational problems, but the problem is people dropping the litter. If people took more pride in their streets, they wouldn't look as bad."

The proposal to change the street waste clear all service will go before a cabinet meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday.

Comments (9)

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3:43pm Thu 5 Nov 09

jrp says...

And where is Belam when he is requested to attend community council, missing. This has been a waste of time and money from the start. What a surprise the council cannot take it back in house now. He has the cheek to say that Ascham Homes estates are dirty. Well the one I live on is not, as the caretakers do a grand job. If Keirs were as good the streets would be glistening. The streets around my estate are appalling.
And where is Belam when he is requested to attend community council, missing. This has been a waste of time and money from the start. What a surprise the council cannot take it back in house now. He has the cheek to say that Ascham Homes estates are dirty. Well the one I live on is not, as the caretakers do a grand job. If Keirs were as good the streets would be glistening. The streets around my estate are appalling. jrp
  • Score: 0

4:03pm Thu 5 Nov 09

jphillips says...

Bob, I'm afraid, is living in cloud-cuckoo land if he really believes that there has been an improvement. Citing 80 complaints in 2 months instead of 80 per week isn't an indicator of cleaner streets, its an indicator that residents have simply got fed-up complaining.
Our street has not improved one iota!
The contract terms were poorly thought-out and Kier's level of supervision and training of staff leaves a lot to be desired.

Just watch and see if there's any improvement despite this increase in funding; bet there wont' be!
Bob, I'm afraid, is living in cloud-cuckoo land if he really believes that there has been an improvement. Citing 80 complaints in 2 months instead of 80 per week isn't an indicator of cleaner streets, its an indicator that residents have simply got fed-up complaining. Our street has not improved one iota! The contract terms were poorly thought-out and Kier's level of supervision and training of staff leaves a lot to be desired. Just watch and see if there's any improvement despite this increase in funding; bet there wont' be! jphillips
  • Score: 0

7:28pm Thu 5 Nov 09

Techno2 says...

Kier were among 103 firms fined £129.5m by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for “cover-pricing” and other forms of collusion to artificially boost contract prices in the construction industry. Kier Regional Ltd and its parent company Keir Group Plc, were the worst offender, fined £17.9m.

With poor business ethics like this, how can we be sure that this firm has not also been playing fast and loose with our council over its street cleaning contracts?
Kier were among 103 firms fined £129.5m by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for “cover-pricing” and other forms of collusion to artificially boost contract prices in the construction industry. Kier Regional Ltd and its parent company Keir Group Plc, were the worst offender, fined £17.9m. With poor business ethics like this, how can we be sure that this firm has not also been playing fast and loose with our council over its street cleaning contracts? Techno2
  • Score: 0

9:11pm Thu 5 Nov 09

Panoptes says...

Anyone would think there were elections imminent - oh, there are! The extra £500,000 needed neatly equates to annual sum spent on stipends for the 50 Councillors who effectively no longer have a role to play since the introduction of Cabinet government. Helpful suggestion: axe these superannuated time-servers and put the money into proper street cleaning (and not just sweeping leaves into neat piles then promptly disappearing so that the merest breeze blows them all back again - unless this is a new job creation scheme?).
Anyone would think there were elections imminent - oh, there are! The extra £500,000 needed neatly equates to annual sum spent on stipends for the 50 Councillors who effectively no longer have a role to play since the introduction of Cabinet government. Helpful suggestion: axe these superannuated time-servers and put the money into proper street cleaning (and not just sweeping leaves into neat piles then promptly disappearing so that the merest breeze blows them all back again - unless this is a new job creation scheme?). Panoptes
  • Score: 0

11:28pm Thu 5 Nov 09

mdj says...

'Many of the people who complained have stopped because we have concentrated on their areas'
What a terrible admission:' if you don't take up complaining as a second career we'll know we can get away with ignoring you'.

This action totally refutes the lie that privatisation is any kind of saving: it has been a fraud from beginning to end, but these are the kind of people Cllr Belam feels happiest dealing with.We're now paying much more to Kier than we were paying for in-house provision. And now we're stuck with them, or some other chancer like them, because the in-house capacity has been destroyed.
This deserves proper investigation: we need to know who negotiaited the terms of our contract with Kier, and we need to know whether any inducements were offered by Kier to these people. As the years drag by and this Borough never improves, incompetence fails to be an adequate explanation.
'Many of the people who complained have stopped because we have concentrated on their areas' What a terrible admission:' if you don't take up complaining as a second career we'll know we can get away with ignoring you'. This action totally refutes the lie that privatisation is any kind of saving: it has been a fraud from beginning to end, but these are the kind of people Cllr Belam feels happiest dealing with.We're now paying much more to Kier than we were paying for in-house provision. And now we're stuck with them, or some other chancer like them, because the in-house capacity has been destroyed. This deserves proper investigation: we need to know who negotiaited the terms of our contract with Kier, and we need to know whether any inducements were offered by Kier to these people. As the years drag by and this Borough never improves, incompetence fails to be an adequate explanation. mdj
  • Score: 0

11:35am Fri 6 Nov 09

Sigi from Walthamstow says...

So our Cllr Belam has no regrets about contracting Kier?

What shameful statement! It indicates that our leadership is not learning from previous mistakes.

Cllr Belam also says that there have been less complaints.

Well, dear Cllr Belam - how often do I have to complain until the service is working? Once a week?
Once a month?
YOU know how often I tried to get my street swept on a regular basis because I normally copy you into yet another exasperated email.

Out of interest - Do you count my emails as complaints or just as gentle reminders, or maybe as begging letters?
Yes, BEGGING to get my road and area swept on a regular basis - because dirty roads give my visiting friends such a bad impression of the area where I live.

To be fair to Cllr Belam. He ALWAYS immediately responds to my emails, he really does. Which is great. So he really tries his best.

But what a waste of his time, and of of mine.

The problem is that this company Kier is totally incompetent. They are clearly unable to clean our streets properly.

I suggest to Cllr Belam:
1.) Get the lawyers of WF Council involved and let them look at the contract with Kier with a magnifying glass.
See wether Kier fulfills ALL their oblivation.

2.) Fine Kier big time for any missed street sweeping.

3.) Fine Kier for fly-tipping under the enviro-crime law when Kier has left rubbish bags uncollected yet again.

4.) To support your 'FINE KIER BIG TIME campaign' for missed street sweeping combine it with a campaign in our local paper!
Ask us residents to send in our complaints to Kier and to you - so you can stand up to Kier.
I promise I will support you all the way.
So our Cllr Belam has no regrets about contracting Kier? What shameful statement! It indicates that our leadership is not learning from previous mistakes. Cllr Belam also says that there have been less complaints. Well, dear Cllr Belam - how often do I have to complain until the service is working? Once a week? Once a month? YOU know how often I tried to get my street swept on a regular basis because I normally copy you into yet another exasperated email. Out of interest - Do you count my emails as complaints or just as gentle reminders, or maybe as begging letters? Yes, BEGGING to get my road and area swept on a regular basis - because dirty roads give my visiting friends such a bad impression of the area where I live. To be fair to Cllr Belam. He ALWAYS immediately responds to my emails, he really does. Which is great. So he really tries his best. But what a waste of his time, and of of mine. The problem is that this company Kier is totally incompetent. They are clearly unable to clean our streets properly. I suggest to Cllr Belam: 1.) Get the lawyers of WF Council involved and let them look at the contract with Kier with a magnifying glass. See wether Kier fulfills ALL their oblivation. 2.) Fine Kier big time for any missed street sweeping. 3.) Fine Kier for fly-tipping under the enviro-crime law when Kier has left rubbish bags uncollected yet again. 4.) To support your 'FINE KIER BIG TIME campaign' for missed street sweeping combine it with a campaign in our local paper! Ask us residents to send in our complaints to Kier and to you - so you can stand up to Kier. I promise I will support you all the way. Sigi from Walthamstow
  • Score: 0

12:41pm Fri 6 Nov 09

Panoptes says...

Kier have been a catastrophe and now they want more money to do the job they should have been doing all along?! They are holding us all to ransom. Pay the Danegeld and you never get rid of the Dane.
Kier have been a catastrophe and now they want more money to do the job they should have been doing all along?! They are holding us all to ransom. Pay the Danegeld and you never get rid of the Dane. Panoptes
  • Score: 0

3:04pm Fri 6 Nov 09

ceegriffin says...

Time we all started complaining again then.

The council's own website tells me that my street is cleaned daily. I haven't seen anybody for over 1 week now. Remember you can complain online now!
Time we all started complaining again then. The council's own website tells me that my street is cleaned daily. I haven't seen anybody for over 1 week now. Remember you can complain online now! ceegriffin
  • Score: 0

12:15am Sat 7 Nov 09

G. Tingey says...

LBWF (Loonie Bastards of Waltham Forest) are lying agin.

In my street, they are more concerned about attacking my wisteria, than in either sweeping the filthy street, flushing the drains (one has been blocked for months) or making sure the unhygenic refuse in an open "garden" area is cleaned up, even if it is a health hazard - in that particular case, street-cleaning, and the "domestic" departments pass the buck between them ,with an occasional diversion to Public Helath, for amusement ....
LBWF (Loonie Bastards of Waltham Forest) are lying agin. In my street, they are more concerned about attacking my wisteria, than in either sweeping the filthy street, flushing the drains (one has been blocked for months) or making sure the unhygenic refuse in an open "garden" area is cleaned up, even if it is a health hazard - in that particular case, street-cleaning, and the "domestic" departments pass the buck between them ,with an occasional diversion to Public Helath, for amusement .... G. Tingey
  • Score: 0

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