Tuesday 17 October 2017

Cllr Duffy launches consultation on improving Brent Council's environmental services

Previously published on Wembley Matters 0 Springtime flytip Chalkhill

Cllr John Duffy (Labour, Kilburn) has returned to the fray over Brent Council's policy on the environment and particularly fly-tipping and littering enforcement.

He is starting a consultation with residents which he says will try and improve environmental services and hopefully stop or change the £35 bulky waste charge and start a schools initiative. All parties are welcome to comment.

He has publicised his initiative on his blog Kilburn Calling LINK and this is an edited version.
In an email to all Brent councillors he says:

Dear All,

I am asking for your input into improving the environmental services available in Brent. I wonder have you a moment  to comment on the issues below.
From my observations Brent Environmental services are often very good, but are very inconsistent and have lacked direction.
It is also clear that the Cabinet continues to waste precious resources and I believe they have no enforcement strategy or are aware of the tactics needed to ensure implementation of an enforcement strategy. The Brent cabinet believe it’s easier to pick the ratepayer’s pocket, than look for solutions. The cabinet have struggled to make environmental enforcement against fly-tipping a priority and relied on unnecessary price increases to cover -up their lack of direction. I find it astonishing that the cabinet continue to Laud over their Zero -tolerance(ZT) policy which waste £100k of precious resources boosting they have issued 6000 FPN ( 99% on fag butts). They do this while concealing  the fact  Fly -Tipping went up by a staggering 32% at the same time.
I am sure I can speak for many resident in Brent when saying if the local police started a ZT policy against burglaries in Brent and arrest 6000 burglars, and at the sometime burglaries when up by 32%. No one would think that was a success most people would call it a failure, however the Cabinet seem to think the opposite.
I believe we need to re-prioritise Brent’s enforcement policy from the sound bite Zero-Tolerance (ZT) into what used to be called Smart Enforcement  which means the policy will be judged by improvements in cleansing out comes (less fly-tipping) not by how many FPNs have been issue.
Enforcement needs co-ordinating of all resources available from the council, the contractor and residents. It is important we seek Value for money to protect and improve the Environment and the cabinet should not treat the residents as a Cash Cow.
The cabinet have continually raised environmental taxes, if you have a Green Bin you pay an extra £20 and an extra £35 for bulky waste collections (allowing for only one collection PA) is £55.That is the equivalent of a 4% rise in council tax this year alone. Some costs are reasonable but other are needless and wasted on paying private contractors to sit outside tube station fining people who drop dog -ends before they get on a train. Instead the cabinet should be investing in a intergrated Environmental Enforcement strategy.
One of the biggest mistake the cabinet made was having no consultation with residents or councillors
What I am suggesting is listed below.I am putting forward these suggestions for consultation with residents. Once  the consultation is complete I hope to gain enough support to call a special meeting of the council in November/December to discuss and implement some of the suggestion and hopefully reconsider the £35 cost for Bulky Waste collections.
(1)      MAPPING    
Firstly we have to analyse the 17000 fly-tips we had last year and remove any duplication, we then have to map the hot spots in each ward (or Village) where the there is consistent fly-tipping dumping.
Our no Dumping Signs,Warning/Information letter and Enforcement Notices need overhauling and updated. All information needs to be A (Accurate) B (Brief) C (Clear) with a Direct Enforcement contact email and telephone number should be showing. All correspondence   should seek to be ABC.
The government legislation allows us to keep all income we receive from fines, with that income we should fund at least two ZIP team this team will deal with consistent areas of dumping. These teams will be on top of existing officers  and should be self funding via the income from the FPNs. 
All zone one (High streets or roads with a transport hub) with a time -banding collections service should be visited at least twice a week  for inspection and where possible at least one of those should be the week-end where the foot-fall is higher 
All officers should be generically trained to deal with enforcement. The service over the last year has had the wrong priorities and has been side-tracked away from Fly-tipping have concentrated on Section 87/88 of the EPA (Littering FPN)
Officers should also be trained and use
Section 33 (Depositing waste)
Section 34 (Duty Of Care)
Section 59 (Private Land )
Section 46 (Domestic Bins)
Section 47 (Commercial Bins)
Section 90 (Litter Controls Areas)
or any legislation which has replaced them

This will give Officers the knowledge to deal with a wider range of problems of areas behind shops Neasden, Edgware Road, Hassop Rd and Waterloo passage as some examples.
(5)      Follow -up enforcement
Many of the problems are reoccurring problems. Brent’s officer’s do a good job on their initial visit and clear -up the fly-tips and many issue FPNs to perpetrators. However where they often fail is the follow-up monitoring, it is important we have re- inspections on persistent hot spots and they should be carried out once a week for the first 6 months and once a month for the following 6 months, before the job is signed off. Its is important we do not just temporarily remove the problem, its important we solve the problem.
(6)      Schools and Education 
One of the great failures of the Cabinet and the Labour group is the neglect of environmental education of our young people. Whether it be on issues from graffiti, litter, air - quality or recycling , they have been neglected . This is clearly a wasted opportunity. What I am proposing is a yearly environmental award. This award will paid for by a community chest of say approx £25k PA and will be funded by contractors who have environmental contracts with us. The Brent Environmental Award (BEA)  involve all schools all schools would be sent a Environmental bundle ( litter pickers, tabards, environmental books etc) the older students would become “Brent Environmental Champions” and offered (Environmental) work experience with our contractors or the council along with other rewards and opportunities .The Younger ones would become “Litter Detectives” and learn about their local environment  and how they can improve it. I attach  a poem that was sung by some London schools (including one from Brent) which I produced some time ago.
We need to work with our Head teachers to draw out how the (BEA) can be used in the classroom , schools are also major resource to spread information, to get out anti-littering and fly-tipping and general environmental information out to parents.
(7)      Bulky Waste 
The decision of the cabinet to introduce a cost for a bulky waste collection needs to be reviewed. I believe this decision is bad economics and bad for the environment. It would appear that the decision is purely to raise money and to cover up the inefficient service and the cabinet failure to monitor it. The fact is the residents had already paid for a free service in the street cleansing contract . At a time when fly-tipping is going up by 32% PA, residents need to understand the logic of how this policy will help control fly-tipping or increase income.
(8)      Recycling 
Again this is one of the areas the cabinet have neglected. It was once the holly grail of environment but has been ignored .The council moved from a once a fortnight collection to a once a week collection and the recycling tonnage has hardly increased and overall our tonnage is down. This again is about the cabinet making the environment a priority. Tonnage can be improved by a number of ways, but mostly i believe it by information and reward. We need to analyse the wards that are failing to recycled and target them.
(9)      Street Cleansing.
Street cleansing performance is in my opinion of a good standard, however we need to be more open and have independent surveys  carried out. At the moment we are self-monitoring. The council and the contractor carry out monitoring. Monitoring of our high streets is not done out of hours or at the weekend when the service often fails. I believe we need to employ an independent company like the Tidy Britain Group or another Council to monitor our services and provide us with independent surveys.
As I have said before many of Brent’s services are street cleansing are often good but can be improved. The issue above are some of the areas we can improve in. I would appreciate any input you can put into this If you can reply to CLLR.JOHN.DUFFY@BRENT.GOV.UK. and call the email IMPROVING SERVICES.


Anonymous said...

I am really impressed with knowledge and depth of understanding of environmental issues By Cllr Duffy. I personally think all the above suggestions are good and should be supported although I suspect the Labour Leadership and Mo Butt will vehemently be against it, not because of the message but because of the messanger.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that Councillor Duffy is correct about fly-tipping, but there
is another factor which is the lack of Brent Council recycling
facilities in the northern part of the Borough. The only dump capable
of taking larger items (TV, PC etc) is in Park Royal, a very long way
for those of us who live in the Kenton area. Until recently we could
use the facilities in Harrow, but now LB Harrow is restricting its
facilities to its own residents. Under these circumstances there must be a temptation to fly-tip, since the alternatives are use Brent's expensive
collection service, or an unrealistically long drive to Park Royal. If providing facilities in the north of the Borough is too expensive, perhaps Brent could do a deal with Harrow to allow Brent residents to use Harrow's facilities.