Monday 27 November 2023

Just another story of South Kilburn neglect – a rubbish saga


How the rubbish accumulates


Guest post by South Kilburn resident Pete Firmin 


Coventry Close is a cul-de-sac off Kilburn High Road, leading to the South Kilburn estate. It is not a residential street, but one containing Royal Mail's NW6 delivery office and a car wash (which replaced an earlier coach depot). It is a popular street for people to park who are shopping on Kilburn High Road, and busy with foot traffic of estate residents and pupils and parents going to and from St Mary's primary school via the footpaths which lead on from the road. Not a very pleasant street at the best of times, it only has a pavement on one side and the border for the car wash is an ugly corrugated iron fence. Hardly salubrious.


Near the top of the road is the rear entrance to what used to be the Kilburn job centre, now closed and unused for many years. The rear entrance was to the underground car park of the job centre. That entrance is now shuttered. Ever since the job centre closed there has been a problem of rubbish accumulating at the back.


After previous complaints in previous years, the rubbish got cleared, although local residents were never told by who (which might have helped in the current situation).


To be clear, local residents (including from the nearby Alpha, Gorefield and Canterbury TRA) have always recognised that this is not public land and it is not the responsibility of the street cleaners to clear this. However, we have asked Brent Council to do something about it, not least on health grounds. They must be able to take action to get the owners of the building to clear the rubbish, not just on a one-off basis, but also regularly. Or arrange for Brent to clear it and charge the owners. 


The current version of the problem stems from - at least - September. Despite regular pleas, accompanied by photos, to various Council officers the pile of rubbish has just grown (see photos from 21 September and 26th November., it was not cleared once in that period).


It’s not that Council Officers, and a Councillor, haven't acknowledged the problem and recognised that it is unacceptable, but nothing ever happens.


Report it to the Council's fly tipping app, you get the response that, since it is on private land, it is not the responsibility of the council.


Other Council officers have referred the issue to the `fly tip team' (same response as we had) and other Council departments.


One reply from an officer (24/10) said "This is not BHM land- I have absolutely no jurisdiction over it. [which we had never claimed] I will come back to you today establishing who we can escalate this to directly."


One of the more substantial communications we were copied into (between two Council officers) (25/10) said


I inspected the location after the last email and contacted the owners of the building and the previous occupants (which I more recently discovered are no longer in control of the building- sadly the Business Rates database is not updated).

I have made subsequent visits to the location and whilst there appeared to be a litter accumulation in the small recess area in front of the understorey carpark, it looked as though it was a new accumulation to the one originally identified.


I have contacted Rossmore Properties Ltd again by email ( ) and now telephone (+44 20 7278 7651) . Their representative has advised that they had originally instructed a local maintenance firm to clear the location and this should have been done. I have requested routine maintenance; however it is unlikely that the routine maintenance will be more frequent than our own street cleansing or refuse collection schedules and would be unreasonable for us to expect this. I am expecting a confirmation email with regards to remedial works here by the end of the day.


Generally speaking the issue is more related to litter accumulation and evidence of ASB activities ( drinking and laughing gas evidence) as opposed to “fly tipping” of larger items.


The last several inspections of Coventry Close would also indicate a lack of general street cleansing for this busy thoroughfare into Kilburn High Road, however the road surface and parked cars may have an impact with this regard.


3 Cambridge Avenue remains empty and lends itself to ASB type issues in its current state. This is another location of concern to add to the list of hotspots for patrols in the Kilburn locality. Whilst there has been a planning application submitted to convert the building into 19 flats, it appears that this application may have already expired ( according to the agency whom submitted the application) therefore its empty state may continue and one wonders what the financial incentive would be to leave a building like this unoccupied.


The carpark area off of Coventry Close/Bristol Walk is managed by Catalyst Housing / Peabody Trust.


Any issues relating to this area should be directed towards them. 


Anyone reporting issues here should be advised to send in photos which always helps to identify and action issues accordingly.


One solution may be to introduce Catalyst /Peabody representatives to Rossmore Properties Ltd to see if this small tiny recess area can be maintained at the same time as the routine maintenance for the estate; for an appropriate fee.


As soon as I get an update from Rossmore Ltd, I will let you know.


Sound useful? But nothing happened. And quite why Catalyst/Peabody (which now have some nearby properties) would take any more responsibility than Brent , which not only has nearby properties, but should also take some responsibility for obvious health issues, is a mystery.


As you might expect by now, nothing happened. When we pointed this out, we got this response:(30/10)


To clarify, the email I previously sent was to explain who is responsible for the small recess area in front of the understorey carpark for 3 Cambridge Avenue ( access area located on Coventry Close) and to differentiate the adjoining private land managed by Catalyst/Peabody ( which also suffers from waste and highways issues from time to time).


The litter accumulations periodically accumulate either as a result of wind blowing it from the public highway sections of the street or as a result of itinerants whom congregate around here to take “rest” on the small wall away from prying eyes.


I have previously served notice on the owners to clear the land in question and put measures in place to prevent future waste accumulations. As a result the metal shutter was installed some time ago. However as a result of the angle of the slope and the layout of the building lines, the shutter could not be installed up to the boundary edge of the public highway and hence you have a tiny recess that continues to suffer with this problem from time to time.


I am aware that the owners of the property have a locally sourced private maintenance contractor whom periodically attend the site to clear any accumulations ( as was advised in the original Notice served on them).


I have spoken with a representative of the company that owns the property to advise them that there is an existing accumulation that requires attention last week.


I have further contacted them today to insist upon action.


Unfortunately the landlords are not based locally and are reliant on their private contractor.

Brent Council can pursue enforcement and issue penalties when non-compliance of a Notice is observed, however in the initial instance would prefer to work with private individuals and organisations to effect a solution. Previous correspondence with the owners have generally been met with compliance whenever this issue has been brought to my attention.


With regards to rubbish bins on Coventry Close I am aware there are a number of recycling bins that were positioned along Coventry Close to serve the blocks of flats and are also accessible to anyone passing. However it is my understanding that the Veolia Street Cleansing contract no longer accommodates litter bins on residential streets unless there are some exceptional circumstances. Furthermore the only section of Coventry Close covered by the street cleansing contract is between the top block of Alpha House to Kilburn High Road. The remaining section from the top block of Alpha House to Canterbury Road is the remit of BHM’s maintenance regime


If you continue to experience negative impacts resulting from waste accumulations on private land please report these to or via Fix My Street platform. If you can include photos at the time of reporting will also be useful to help us identify locations and deal with the issues accordingly.


We then had to point out that there are, contrary to that message, no rubbish bins on Coventry Close (which is why we have been asking for them for years.....) And Coventry Close is not a residential street.


From what locals observe, while obviously some of the rubbish comes from street drinkers, the majority comes from people walking through and from those who park on Coventry Close. But it doesn't really matter who causes the problem, it needs dealing with both in the short and long terms and while Brent talks of doing so, the rubbish continues to pile up.


We wonder whether this would happen in other parts of the borough or is yet another sign of how Brent neglects its basic responsibilities in South Kilburn. Building showcase new housing looks nice, less so when surrounded by uncleared rubbish. And before anyone accuses us of exaggeration, Council officers have repeatedly accepted that the area is neglected and promised to sort it. And little happens.


Pete Firmin


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