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.