Thursday, 13 February 2014

Croydon's Litter Chief Welcomes Streets Commission Report

Croydon’s litter chief Tony Brooks, Director of Environment, has welcomed the report of the North Croydon Streets Commission as confirming from residents’ perspectives what his staff already new, and making many helpful recommendations.

This acknowledgement came during a constructive dialogue with the 30 members of the public from several parts of the Borough who attended the Croydon Communities Consortium meeting on rubbish at the Town Hall on Wednesday (12 February).

The Problems and the Costs

Based on his presentation of the basics of the problem and Council action, it is clear that the task of dealing with litter, rubbish and fly-tipping is clearly an up-hill struggle. £ms are spent on household waste collection, street cleaning and collecting fly-tipped materials. The refuse collection and street cleaning contracts cost £15m and £5m a year. There are 148,000 domestic properties, of which 23,000 are in blocks of flats. In 2012/13 there were 11,150 requests to deal with fly-tipping.

Having outlined the scale of the challenge, Brooks then explained the actions that were being taken including fixed penalty notices, installation of alley gates, installation of additional cameras, visits to properties. Extra resources had been allocated.

Business waste is an additional problem. Many traders do not have a waste collection contract, put more rubbish out than is covered by their contract or just leave sacks out for the Veola to collect. In addition he suspected that some waste contracts did not collect trade bags as they should knowing that Veola would pick it up.

The problem is worst in North Croydon, especially, Thornton Heath, Bensham Manor, Selhurst and West Thornton.

100 hotspots have been identified. 15 have been subject to special action which has resulted in considerable improvement e.g. Tylecroft Mews and Zion Place. Special operations are due to take place along London Rd from West Croydon to Norbury, and in Thornton Heath between 6pm and 1am, involving a mix of different specialist Council workers.

Public's Views

Several questions were asked and issues raised.

It appears that the Council is charging places of worship for collection of their waste although according to local church activists at the meeting the Government had passed regulations requiring Councils to treat places of worship as domestic not trade waste generators. One church was being charged about £2,000 a year. Brooks said he would look into the issue.

A resident explained the problems involved in trying to re-cycle or dispose of small electrical goods. People without a car are not allowed into the Factory Lane recycling centre.

Practical suggestions made included:
  • Place small electrical goods recycling bins at the entrance to Factory Lane gate for use by people without cars.
  •  20-100 hours community service cleaning up rubbish instead of fixed penalty notices for fly tipping.
  • Council litter publicity to include the details of freegle/freecycle, and the need to ensure  that door to door waste collectors are asked to show their Environment Agency registration details.
  • Re-introduction of the former skip service to enable residents to get rid of unwanted items.
  • Rethinking the range and type of bins.
  • Abolition of the charge for the Council to collect unwanted bulky items.

I asked him what he thought were the reasons the problem of litter etc seemed to have grown over the years and that the Council faced an up-hill struggle to even get it to flatten out. I drew his attention to the fact that in 2006/7 and 2007/8 the Council’s Government approved Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy had included the need to tackle the litter problem in the wards with most deprivation (mainly North Croydon). Given his stress on the problems of North Croydon, and given the welcome given by both party leaders to the North Croydon Streets Commission report and the intention to have a scrutiny examination of it, I asked him for his reaction to its recommendations.

Brooks said he had only been involved in Croydon on the issue in the last 2/3 years. He thought that some of the reasons included the growth in the number of flats, the degree of population change, landlords leaving items on the street when they do refurbishment to flats between tenants; the need to improve knowledge about recycling. He recognised the problems faced by many tenants living in properties with inadequate bin facilities. There will be further planning requirements on waste disposal facilities for new build  housing developments. He doubted that the 2 weekly collection was part of the problem, but recognised the problem of wind blowing things out of bins. There might be other causes of which he was not aware.

The Commission report confirmed what his officers knew. It made some strong recommendations, some of which need to be carefully looked at such as the re-organisation of street cleaning to take place the day after refuse collection. He recognised that many residents could not afford bulky waste charges.

The meeting took place in meetings rooms in the Town Hall having been moved from the Bernard Weatherill House community space because of the need to use the latter for people evacuated from their flooded homes in the south the Borough.

Croydon's Recycling Sites 

Croydon Freegle

To offer things you no long want that may be of use to other please consider using Croydon Freegle (formerly Freecycle). This can even include old bricks, pieces of wood which people use for their building projects.

North Croydon Streets Commission

The report is at:


Commentaries on the Report’s Launch

Croydon Communities Consortium

Discussion on it:

I can be contact at

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