Labour Westminster Councillors have launched a 10-point plan to tackle the current dumping epidemic across Westminster.
Labour say that the current Council approach to tackling dumping needs to change to respond to the massive increase in furniture, household goods and other material being dumped on the streets.
In no particular order, Labour’s 10-point plan is:
- Better ways of reporting dumping – The current Council ‘Report It’ system doesn’t really work with a mobile phone. One resident told us his experience: “A month or so back I tried to report a litter problem in Park Street. The system defaulted to Hyde Park Street and nothing could get it to change to Park Street. I even exited and started again with same result. Consequence is I’ve given up and not likely to try again.” Another resident said: “It has a number of very irritating rules about how good my password should be. It asked for my national insurance number. Not sure why. Then you try and add a “case” and you can’t. It’s terrible at the moment. Problem with launching it half-cocked is that people will try it and then give up and never try it again. As there is little upside to reporting it needs to be easy to do. In any event, probably ought to be iOS app so that location is automatically reported and you can add a picture.”
- Monitoring Twitter posts – Twitter has been full of examples of rubbish dumping pictures across Westminster, often with the @CityWestminster address. But the Council’s twitter account is not monitored so no action is ever taken as a result. So, how about a Council-monitored Twitter account?
- Better enforcement – The current policy of ‘warning people’ isn’t working. The City Inspectors should be able take a much harder line. Fines are only given on the second offence, but this is treated as a first offence so there’s a 50% discount. The Council should make it clear that there is zero tolerance for dumping and should levy fines on the first offence and drop the 50% discount.
- Weekend working – City Inspectors work Monday –Friday yet there’s no doubt that offending goes up at the weekend at the same time as the Council’s ability to enforce dumping takes a couple of days off. The Council needs to think smart – Perhaps the Council could empower Traffic Wardens to take photos and issue fines for those seen dumping?
- Improved publicity – The current ‘warning signs’ are simply ignored. The Council should introduce prominent signs with the following message “3 people were fined £150 this month for leaving rubbish here – don’t dump”. This would get across the message that people do get fined for dumping.
- Use cameras to identify the dumpers – CCTV cameras located at dumping ‘hotspots’ do stop dumping. There was a long-standing furniture dumping problem at the corner of Harrow Road and First Avenue which was stopped by locating a CCTV camera there. This should be the norm at all dumping ‘hotspots’
- Introduce a speedier bulky goods refuse collection service – currently residents wait up to 10 working days (2 weeks) for a collection. One resident wrote: “I am trying to dispose of large items legally and responsibly using the Council, it is most unhelpful. Not only do Veolia (contacted via the Westminster council site) charge over £20 but they then refuse to pick up for over a fortnight, even though they take full payment at time of booking. No wonder people leave their unwanted furniture etc. all over the streets.” Another resident tweeted: “Recently booked bulky pickup thru Westminster site. Two minute process Easy. Got multiple texts as reminder of pickup too. Only downside was 1-2 week wait for collection.”
Expecting people to store unwanted beds and fridges for two weeks before they are collected by the Council is totally unreasonable and impractical for the vast majority of people. Most people living in flats do not have the space to store bulky goods. And these days, people expect a much swifter service than the Council is providing.
- Cut the cost of bulky goods collection – It currently costs £24 for 5 items plus £5 per additional item. Introducing a ‘first time free’ policy would surely encourage more people to have their rubbish collected?
- Introduce a Saturday service – Westminster does not have a ‘municipal tip’ where residents can take their recycling or bulky refuse. The nearest ‘tip’ is in Wandsworth at Smugglers Way. And while it might be convenient for those living in south Westminster it is not convenient for residents of Marylebone, St John’s Wood and Paddington. The Council should introduce a Saturday bulky waste service to enable residents to take their waste to a parked refuse freighter at a number of locations across Westminster. There could also be a smaller vehicle to collect electrical items and scrap metal, household appliances like cookers, fridge/freezers, washing machines, TV’s, monitors and computers.
- Introduce a Landlord service – With the growth of renting and increasing turnover of tenants, many landlords take the opportunity of redecorating and providing new furniture when leases come to an end. The Council should provide a paid-for service for landlords to enable them to dispose of unwanted items when tenants are moving out. The Council can promote this through managing agents, housing associations and City West Homes
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s Environment and City Management spokesperson, said: “The increase in rubbish dumping on the streets needs to be tackled head-on with more use of CCTV and tougher action against those responsible, together with improved services to give residents more options for getting their unwanted furniture collected. The Council also needs to improve its on-line reporting options so that action can be taken to deal with dumping issues quickly and effectively.”