Councillor Stuart Collins, Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon, gave a presentation to the Committee which outlined the work that was being undertaken within his portfolio.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon confirmed that the contract monitoring team had been increased by one member of staff to enable the team to troubleshoot and hold more regular meetings with contractors. The difficulty with the current contract was that it had been set in different circumstances and so did not respond to current challenges such as increasing volumes of flytipping and packaging.
The Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon confirmed that the Street Champions were a valuable resource and provided information on where the contractor was not performing.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon stated the issues with the recycling centres were not just due to surrounding boroughs closing their Neighbourhood Recycling Centres, such as Surrey County Council closing a number of Household Recycling Centres. However, the introduction of a permit scheme would assist in ensuring it was residents only who were using the facilities. The Cabinet Member noted that users had been surveyed to establish where improvements were required at the sites and it was found that sites needed to be reconfigured so they did not need to close as often. For the Purley Oaks site, it had been agreed with Traffic Management that road markings would need to change to manage the flow of traffic into the site.
The Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon confirmed that enforcement officers provided newsletters on what materials could be recycled, and that Community Protection Notices had been issued. Where there were residents producing large volumes of waste officers would speak to them about recycling and would consider enforcement, where necessary. The Committee noted that not all landlords were part of the Landlord Licensing Scheme and the council was working on getting all signed up to the scheme.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member stated that education was important to ensuring people recycling and do not contaminate waste. By going door to door the council would ensure that the translation service was used when necessary. Research had been conducted and the council knew where dedicated resources was required due to low recycling rates or a transient population. Furthermore, rather than using chips in bins it was felt that speaking and educating residents would be more successful as officers would be able to establish what assistance resident require.
Members queried whether it was possible to align street cleaning and waste collections and were informed by the Director of Streets that it was almost impossible, however the challenge had been set for Veolia to do this where possible.
The Committee noted that the volume of graffiti and flytipping had increased, however the Cabinet Member stated that this was a trend that was being seen nationally. In Croydon flytipping was bear cleared quickly and enforcement was taking place. The Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon stated that it would be difficult to provide a rating out of ten for his performance as each service was performing differently but confirmed he was ambitious and wanted to see improvements across the service.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member confirmed that work was ongoing in providing recycling facilities at flats, however difficulties continued with the logistics of locating the facilities. The Service Manager for Environment and Leisure stated the service was committed to placing recycling facilities in all locations and that a one size fits all approach was not appropriate in many cases. For future developments officers would be providing advice on ensuring appropriate refuse plans were in place. The Service Manager confirmed he would look into the concerns raised regarding Forestdale.
The Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon assured the Committee that where issues were identified officers did deal with them quickly. It was noted that Croydon's recycling rate was above the London average, however the difficulty was with plastic packaging. There were not enough facilities which could deal with the waste and the Cabinet Member stated that it was important that other councils also lobbied on the reduced use of these products as it was an issue that needed to be dealt with internationally.
The Committee were informed that across Europe, Britain was behind other countries on recycling rates and that it was important that the country moved to national systems. In the South London Waste Partnership the boroughs were moving to a single system which it was felt would provide efficiency savings and was moving towards the necessary uniformed approach.
Where there were occasions where the issue had not been fully dealt with, such as the reported flytipped being collected but not the surrounding waste, the Cabinet Member stated it should be raised with the council as it was an issue the contractor should have dealt with.
The Cabinet Member stated, in response to Member queries, that Veolia would deal with missed collections, and while the frequency had decreased work was still required to reduce it further.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member stated that the number of recycling centres did not affect flytipping, as some of the worst sites for the crime were in the vicinity of recycling centres. However, it was noted that while the number of reported flytips had remained the same the number cleared within 48 hours had increased from 3% to 81%. The Cabinet Member felt that it was more effective to review the tonnage of waste rather than the number of reports.
Concerns were raised by Committee Members that Purley district centre was becoming dirtier and the issue needed to be addressed. The Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon stated that the number of street bins had been increased and big belly bins would be introduced which would reduce the speed that they filled up. The Director of Streets noted that one idea would not solve the issue of littering and that it was necessary to use a combination solutions. He requested all councillors speak to residents when they see them littering as it was important to foster pride within the borough.
In response to queries regarding whether the opening hours of recycling centres could be extended to provide further opportunities for people to dispose of their waste, the Director of Streets informed the Committee that the licenses for the sites would need to be amended which would be through the EA. When users were surveyed it was noted that the Purley Oaks site users would like alternative hours, however applying for an extension in operating hours would incur a cost to the council.
The Director of Streets informed the Committee that the Environmental Agency (EA) classified paint as a hazardous waste which required a license that the recycling centres did not have. The council however had a contract with the Corporation of London for the collection of paint, with the details available on the internet. The Cabinet Member in response stated that more work would be done on advertising this service to residents.
The Committee noted that in the first six months of the financial year the recycling rate in Croydon had dropped to 33%, however were informed by the Director of Streets that the published report had missing data and wording, and so was incorrect.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member stated that by prosecuting the perpetrators of flytipping the borough had gained a reputation among criminal flytippers for prosecuting. Furthermore, since August 2016 there had been a fall in the number of reports of flytipping.
The Director of Safety informed the Committee that the cost of taking people to court varied and normally the council paid a solicitor to work on a number of prosecutions at one time. Fines for littering were ordinarily £200-£400 and so the costs incurred by the council were not covered, however it was stated that the value of pursuing prosecutions was in the message that was being sent that flytipping was not acceptable.
Members noted that the lids provided for the recycling bins were not efficient in keeping waste from spilling onto the street and requested that it be reviewed.
The Committee noted that there were know flytipping hotspots across the borough and queried whether the council could work with residents to gain evidence of perpetrators via CCTV. The Director of Safety confirmed the authority did work with residents to gain evidence, however this was on a case by case basis as the council wanted to ensure the safety of residents. It was stated that the most powerful tool for the authority was surveillance by officers and a new team was being established to collect evidence and also provide information to the local community.
Members suggested that it may be beneficial if it was a requirement that all businesses, shops and cafes display their waste licence in a similar manner restaurants and cafes display their food hygiene ratings. This would enable residents to establish whether businesses were the causes of waste issues in their area. In response the Cabinet Member welcomed working with the Committee to lobby the Mayor's Office or government on establishing such a regime.
The Committee noted that leaves had fallen later than anticipated and queried whether additional sweeping was taking place to ensure that fallen leaves were collected before they became a danger. Scott Edgell from Veolia stated that leafing was always difficult to manage, however the contractor had delayed resources to October to enable a more phased and responsive service. Veolia were very aware of the safety aspect of fallen leaves and also that leaves were a form of litter and sought to clear as soon as possible. It was felt that around 90% of the leaves had fallen, and it was hoped that the remaining leaves would fall prior to Christmas.
Members noted that the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon was also a Deputy Leader and queried whether it was possible for the portfolio to be more to streets to ensure the safety of users. The Cabinet Member stated that as Deputy Leader he did work with colleagues across the portfolios on issues such as graffiti and bins in parks. Furthermore, it was noted that the Director of Streets also worked with the Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment so work was done across the portfolios.
In response to Member queries regarding the transfer of data from Veolia and the council the Director of Streets confirmed that some difficulties remained, but that improvements had been made. It was hoped that the data could be made more user friendly and that in future it would be able back and forth between the contractor and the council. While the council could not see all the data available to Veolia, full integration would happen under the new South London Waste Partnership contract.
The Committee came to the following conclusions:
That it would beneficial if businesses, shops and restaurants were required to display their waste license in a similar manner that restaurants are required to display their food hygiene rating; and
That the Committee should be kept informed of the results from the survey that was conducted at Purley Oaks recycling centre.
Note the report of the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon;
Recommend the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon lobby for the requirement for businesses, cafes, shops and restaurants to publicise waste licences;
Recommend the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon works to ensure all landlords provide appropriate waste facilities;
Recommend the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon keep councillors aware of the results of the surveys carried out at the recycling centres;
Recommend the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon circulate information to all councillors regarding the disposal of paint waste service and publicise the information more for residents;
Recommend the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon lobby government for a national campaign, similar to the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, on the proper disposal of waste by supporting recycling and the reporting of flytipping; and
Recommend the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon support a local educational engagement campaign on recycling.