Question Time with the Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon, Councillor Stuart Collins.
The Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon gave the Sub-Committee a presentation on his portfolio, which can be found in the Presentations supplement, and stated that it was the ambition for Croydon is lead the way on innovation, service delivery and enforcement.
While it was noted that there were more reported flytips through the app it was stressed that it did not mean that flytipping was more prevalent, rather that people were reporting them. Furthermore the Cabinet Member informed the Committee that 82% of reports flytips were cleared within 48 hours and the new waste contract would require them to be cleared within 24 hours.
The Cabinet Member noted the importance of community involvement and informed the Sub-Committee that there had been over 120 Don’t Mess With Croydon clean up events and there were 300 Street Champions.
The priorities for the portfolio were stated to be ensuring that the new waste contract through the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) contract was successful and further developing the IT systems and the app. The Council would continue to work with the SLWP and review the work of other councils to introduce further good practice.
The Cabinet Member informed Members that he had spoken to a number of residents associations across the borough regarding the new contract and had received positive responses. While financial pressures continued it was stressed that it was important that there was a strong enforcement team, and that the SLWP efficiency savings were being directed into improved services.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member stated that maps had been drawn up of the flytipping hotspots and covert surveillance had been started to try to catch those committing the crime. It was anticipated that it would take around 18 months to completed surveillance in each ward, and Members were advised that if they had areas they thought were a hotspot that they should inform the Director of Safety.
Members queried the communication around bulky item collection and whether assisted collections could be provided to the elderly. The Cabinet Member assured the Sub-Committee that if the resident informed the Council then Veolia would assist in collecting bulky items. Whilst the information on the website was considered to be clear, particularly when booking a collection, it was suggested that a line should be added to any leaflets to make the distinction between the cost and volume of items for bulky items and white goods.
The Cabinet Member, in response to Member concerns, stated there were stickers for shops to advertise that they were responsible however officers would visit traders to discuss their responsibilities in keeping the area clean. Furthermore the Cabinet Member committed to put Kenley on the list of centres for a deep street clean.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member stated that flytipping was necessarily the governments or the council’s fault and that it was wrong to use it as ‘political football’. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign was noted as a charity, and not a government campaign, and it was suggested that a national campaign similar to the Drink Driving campaign was required. The Cabinet Member suggested that more resources needed to be given to local councils, or money should be ring-fenced for environmental services to provide a minimum statutory service.
Officers confirmed they would provide Members with the timetable of when the street vacuums would be introduced but confirmed that they would not be used as a leafing resource but as a street cleansing resource.
Members queried whether there was a correlation between flytipping and areas of high private rented properties, particularly at the beginning of the month when tenancies changed. The Cabinet Member confirmed that officers were working with the Housing department and did contact landlords through the Landlord Licensing Scheme regarding responsible disposal of waste. Members were further informed that residents often contacted the Council when neighbours were moving out and were leaving waste, such as old mattresses, and officers would speak to those who had flytipped. The Director of Safety stated it was difficult to catch people in the act and so education was important alongside enforcement.
Members queried the statement that using the number of reported flytips was not a helpful assessment and were informed that in future it should be helpful, and that from 2016/17 figures there had been a 4% decrease in reports.
In response to Member questions officers confirmed the Council had responded to the Mayor’s strategy and agreed with making a circular economy and deigning out waste, such as less packaging.
The Director of Streets, in response to questions, stated that as part of the procurement strategy for the new waste contract the option on bringing it in house was reviewed but it did not stack up economically. The Cabinet Member stressed the importance of Veolia instilling the pride for working for Croydon for their staff also.
Veolia representatives confirmed that they were looking to reduce agency staff which would reduce the issue of missed collections. Furthermore tablets had been installed in each vehicle which learnt the route used by crews and required assisted collections to be confirmed as having taken place.
The Sub-Committee were informed that the flytipping hotspots were based on the statistics received and were often found in places where there was little overlooking. The Director of Safety stated that the majority of flytipping was domestic waste rather than commercial waste and was often found in high population density areas with a high turnover of tenancies. Officers were identifying roads where there were issues and not only considered enforcement, but also education and ensured the right provisions were available for people to appropriately dispose their waste.
In response to Member questions officers confirmed the new waste contract would provide those with limited waste storage space with different coloured bags which would also help distinguish domestic waste from flytips in black bags. The coloured bags would also distinguish residential waste from commercial waste and vehicles would have cameras on them to enable officers to review data on areas with a large number of black waste bags.
Veolia representatives stated that cardboard was a valuable resource and they would be looking to actively promoting the recycling of cardboard to customers.
The Director of Streets stated that while the IT system had helped there was a need for further integration and part of the new service would introduce further integration with two-way communication between the Council and Veolia being key. The Director of Safety also confirmed that improvements to creating automated feedback to customers was necessary, and that further development work on the app for enforcement was being undertaken. The Sub-Committee were informed that the enforcement team were due to have new devices in the new year. Officers confirmed that they were confident that the IT integration improvements would be in place for the start of the contract.
In reaching its recommendations, the Committee made the following
The Committee RESOLVED to recommend to Cabinet that: