January 1, 2024 - how did you feel? Thrilled, or grateful for a day off work if you were lucky?

For me, the New Year raised anxiety levels as I remembered the spikes in constituent complaints.

Expectations of the council can disappoint. As a small positive sign, the streets were busy and clear of rubbish on my New Year’s Eve walk around Hampstead village, except where the private commercial refuse companies such as First Mile, unlike Veolia, had failed to turn up to clear their piles. Camden has powers to enforce but is slow to do so. 

But what happens when a national public service fails? 

Three major culprits, Thames Water, UK Power Networks and Royal Mail stand out as causing the most frustrations this Christmas. 

The council may say those services are not within its remit, but what about the wear and tear on people’s mental health, lost days at work, school, time and money as a result of company failures?

Ham & High: Cllr Linda Chung looks at companies that have caused frustration this ChristmasCllr Linda Chung looks at companies that have caused frustration this Christmas (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

Royal Mail has my award of one 'dud' star for delayed and lost mail, and bundles jutting out of letter boxes, begging to be stolen. My letter to the chief executive achieved satisfaction in one part of Hampstead. Then more voices of anger and sorrow on a similar theme arose from other parts of town. 

UK Power Networks wins two 'dud' stars. Concerns about a broken lamp in Perrins Lane were ignored. Camden was in a queue and there were other sites waiting for UKPN to connect. The Lane was left in the dark and unsafe for over three months. I’ve yet to learn whether Camden has any redress.

The winner with three Dud Stars is Thames Water - complaints of constant flooding and residents left without water for days elicit no explanation or apology. My road had a succession of repairs, leaving one still seeping water. This went on for weeks until the seepage turned into a geyser and residents screamed at the chief executive.

How can we, who 'Make Camden', the council motto, strive to make it a successful sustainable borough with a strong economy and equal opportunities, if we allow wasted water, constantly dug up roads, and lost mail for people who rely on it, to go on without action? There must be a way, but there must also be a will, which Camden seems to lack at the moment. 

  • Linda Chung is councillor for Hampstead Town ward and chair of the resources & corporate performance scrutiny committee at Camden Council.