Camden Council attacked for ‘incompetence’ amid ‘chaos’ of fortnightly rubbish collections
PUBLISHED: 19:10 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:12 12 April 2017
Camden Council has been accused of “incompetence” as critics blast the “chaos” of the new rubbish collection sytem.
Alongside a storm on social media – where increasing numbers of users have been posting pictures of waste strewn across Camden streets – residents and politicians have attacked the move to fortnightly waste collections in parts of the borough.
Leader of Camden Conservatives Claire-Louise Leyland said she was told by staff that contractors Veolia and Camden Council were having an “emergency meeting” today to deal with rubbish problems, adding: “Once again Camden Labour seems out of touch – they’re out of touch with residents and out of touch with the stress that frontline staff are experiencing”.
But a spokesman for Camden Council told the Ham&High that no emergency meeting has taken place or was planned to deal with the new system, which was inaugurated on April 1.
He added: “We meet Veolia regularly to discuss and resolve issues, especially during the introduction of new services.”
Environment cabinet member Cllr Meric Apak did apologise to residents who have had a “long wait” while calling to report problems with the new system, however.
He added: “I want to assure residents that we are working hard to resolve any initial issues they are experiencing in what is only the second week of the changed service.”
Cllr Leyland, who represents Belsize ward, said that nearly one in every 10 households affected by the changes – which mostly applies to the north of the borough – had called to report problems on just one day, with residents being informed by call centre staff that this was normal.
But a council spokesman rejected her figure of 3,000 people calling on one day, clarifying that it was “physically impossible”.
Around 2,800 calls were made on April 3, he added, but some of those were made by the same people.
In response to general complaints about the new system, Cllr Apak said he understood the waste service “has to work well for our diverse borough”.
He added: “There will inevitably be a bedding-in period whilst residents get used to their own changes.
“But any major change in life – like starting school or moving house – comes with uncertainties.”
He also told the Ham&High that by “appropriately separating waste and recycling, residents can help us become leaders in recycling in London” and make Camden “even more environmentally friendly”.
He added that the new contract saves Camden £5million and is necessary to improve the borough’s recycling rate, which is currently 25 per cent.
But Cllr Leyland rejected that explanation, stressing that the problems are not merely “teething troubles”.
She added: “Camden Labour need to admit that this contract isn’t working and their new leader needs to commit to bringing back our weekly collections.”
Meanwhile Tom Simon, former Lib Dem councillor for Belsize and current chairman of the Camden branch of the party, also attacked Labour for its policy.
He said: “Labour has shown its incompetence on this issue by plunging in and imposing these very significant changes on the whole borough without testing them first.
“The £75 garden waste charge is a mistake and should be withdrawn – it hits older people disproportionately and discourages people from looking after their gardens. Surely we want people to recycle their garden waste.”
He said that the system is “stick only” and no carrot, adding: “It risks making the council’s poor track record on dealing with fly tipping worse as well.”
Mr Simon also said that the council “either forgot” or “deliberately left” rubbish in the Chalcots Estate in Dorney so they could concentrate on areas “more visible to the public”
“Allowing a massive build up of rubbish on council estates is incompetent and unfair,” he added.
To check collection arrangements and view a list of FAQs, visit camden.gov.uk/recyclingandrubbish
To report a problem or ask a question about collections, email Veolia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7974 2202.