Council Leader answers questions on Acton's rubbish
Angela Jullings, who has adopted the role as Acton's unofficial, unpaid Rubbish Tsar has given us an account of her lengthy meeting on Friday 13th with Jason Stacey, Head of Ealing Council. Vlod Barchuk, local councillor in Acton Central Ward and Ken White were also present. The meeting, requested by Mr Stacey lasted 2 hours. Here is a shortened version of what was discussed:
Jason Stacey started by outlining current Council action on rubbish.
- Revision of the street cleaning schedule across the Borough to improve standards, including frequency of cleaning in very littered streets and general cleanliness levels in all streets. This will happen shortly.
- Monitoring to be done by the Council instead of contractors.
- Eventually it is hoped that information on each street's cleanliness will be on the Council website. There will be a trial period before this goes live online.
- Confirmation that our refuse, recycling and street cleansing will all occur on the same day. A schedule is being worked on currently and will be put into place after consultation.
Angela talked about one of her bug-bears: litterpicks versus brooms. To sweep a street using a broom takes much longer. Mr Stacey agreed that streets should be deep-cleansed (with a broom) every 4th week.
Over the coming weeks residents will receive a consultation form regarding choices on how our refuse is collected and stored, as well as our recycling. This will happen before the end of the year and the results of our "vote" will be known in January.
- Wheelie bins are one possibility. Flats or dwellings which can't take wheelie bins will have to have a different, more suitable method of storage.
- Solutions are being sought for flats or multiple occupancies without adequate refuse & recycling storage.
- In future, greater consideration should be given to refuse storage in planning applications for flats.
The Council realise that in reality they are not kept informed by landlords about rentals, meaning no Council tax is collected. Council tax is therefore more expensive for those who pay it. Also, the landlords/agents in question are not accountable. Mr Stacey is considering ways of getting this information.
- Angela suggested that Street Watchers could be encouraged to report properties which commit "rubbish offenses" and those suspected of illegal multiple occupancy.
Street Watchers were discussed.
- Jason Stacey is working alongside Sue Wyatt to develop the role of the Street Watcher and sees them as a valuable resource across the borough.
- Changes to the Street Watcher programme will be announced in the coming months.
- Angela mentioned supermarket packaging and Mr Stacey said said this was a national issue, rather than a borough one, but the Council were
liaising with the London Assembly on this matter. See http://www.lga.gov.uk/ for
- Timing of collection of commercial waste and domestic waste/recycling is also being considered. Mr Stacey is aware that waste often sits on streets, domestic or commercial, outside the current collection hours & thinks this might be one solution to stopping that.
He is also considering installing street signs indicating times of refuse/recycling & cleaning times/dates (like Westminster).
Fly-tipping and rubbish on private land is a problem also under review.
- The Council intend to go into schools to start awareness there.
- The priority is the consultation on how we collect & store recycling & refuse, then look at how effective the changes are.
- Mr Stacey is keen to put the new strategies into place first. He is looking at what works in other boroughs and thinking longer term.
Angela brought up the £20 fee for large item collection and suggested this could stop some of the
fly-tipping. The implications of this are being investigated.
BT & NTL boxes can now be painted over by the Council if graffitied.
Graffiti removal by the Council has already been stepped up with a far quicker response time. The Council aims to reduce money spent on fly-tip & graffiti removals through eradication of offences, which could save Ealing Council over £2m boroughwide.
Fly-tip and graffiti report reponse times
- Mr Stacey confirmed that emails should be opened immediately. The Council aims to deal with them within from the time of the report. If a report is made over the weekend it gets processed the following Monday.
- Morrisons's paper recycling bins. Angela received assurance from Mr Stacey that this would be dealt with this week. He is aware that they bear no ressemblance to the recycling bins at Waitrose.
Mr Stacey also mentioned the new shopping centre in White City and its possible
impact on Acton. He wants to make our High Street more respectable and better maintained, and wants to attract businesses there.
Specific problem areas were not addressed. However, as well as notifying the Council directly, Jason and many of his team do read the ActonW3.com forum regularly, especially the Filthy Acton thread, so posting ideas, concerns and complaints are regularly read by the Council.
When asked how long it will take to solve this situation, Mr Stacey answered that we should see improvements in the next few months with the new cleaning schedule, the result of the consultation and the changes that might bring. However, some things
take time and by May 2008 he hoped that the problem would be solved and we'd be happier with our services.
Overall Angela was given the impression that "the cogs are working overtime in the minds of Jason Stacey and his Council, that major changes are afoot but the detail is yet to be decided on, as there are so many options and the Council Leader and his team want to make sure the best, most far-reaching and longterm solutions are found".
October 19, 2006