Monday, August 25, 2014

Recycling on Crossfields

This has been the general state of our recycling bins on a Sunday before Lewisham Council's recycling team come to collect at midday on a Monday. Full to the brim and spilling out. These three are positioned at the main entrance to the estate and look extremely unsightly. They are also seen by members of the public who regularly pass through the estate.

Back in July, we had a chat with one of our caretakers, after the recycling team had failed to empty one of these bins. They won't empty any bins which have been contaminated with food, and won't take black plastic refuse bags (which are likely to have food in them).

There was obviously the need to re-educate everyone on what not to put in the bins. The vinyl stickers on the side of the bins do not tell people what cannot be put in the bins. The large upright sign says 'no plastic bags, garden waste, trade waste or general household waste', but it doesn't specifically say 'no food'. And there hasn't been an up-to-date leaflet through the door for nearly two years despite new people moving into the estate over that time.

Our caretaker said that he'd asked for two more recycling bins because there just weren't enough. On average, one bin is shared with 37 households. Although flat dwellers pay the same amount in Council Tax for the service as houses, they cannot control what their neighbours put in the bins. If a bin is not emptied because of one neighbour's ignorance, there are even less bins available for the following week.

The leaflet that never got delivered
He was particularly concerned because he'd been told that the Council's Refuse & Recycling Team intended to lock the bin lids in the near future and this would result in people leaving plastic bags of stuff by them rather than inside them. He said there had been a leaflet warning of the plan to lock the the bin lids sent to every home quite recently.

If there was, we hadn't received it. We later discovered that there had been a leaflet sent out recently but we only knew one person in Castell House who had received it. From a quick email poll of a few residents in different blocks, we discovered that hardly anyone had got the leaflet. Something was seriously wrong with the Council's distribution contractors. The recycling leaflets most likely ended up in the recycling bins!

The caretaker had also requested extra litter bins (which are emptied by Lewisham Council's Sweeping team) because they have to clear up a lot of litter that doesn't get binned. This is actually the Sweeping Team's job but they're only about once a week. These bins also have to cater for the public passing through, not just the estate's residents. But so far his requests had fallen on deaf ears.

So we got in touch with Lewisham Homes at the end of July. We wrote to top management, and asked for: two more recycling bins; a leaflet distributed to every household saying what can and can't be put in the bins; new vinyl stickers that include what can't be put in the bins; plus more litter bins; and an explanation for why the caretaker's requests have not been heeded.

Management passed our email to Estate Services who then passed it directly to Lewisham Council's Refuse & Recycling Team. We thought this response was rather passing the buck, since Estate Services manage the caretakers who have to go round cleaning up after the Council's Refuse & Recycling Team, plus their previous requests for more bins would have gone to their managers in Estate Services.

Click to enlarge
So we persisted with Estate Services but also rang the Council Refuse Team about the leaflets that had seemingly not found their way through most people's letterboxes. "What leaflets?" they said. "Give us your address so that we can send you one". No, we said, you have to leaflet everyone on the estate. "We'll call you back" they said, but didn't.

However, Lewisham Homes' Estate Services got back in touch within a couple of days to sort it all out, and two weeks later they reported back with the news that they had organised for more bins, stickers and the possibility of new leaflets, which would this time be delivered by the caretakers (for extra cash) to ensure they were actually delivered.

The new recycling bins have now arrived and been placed in more convenient places for those blocks which were previously not very well served. New leaflets are on order. More litter bins are due. Result.

The only query left is why the caretakers' requests were not taken up when they first voiced them months ago.

1 comment:

  1. We have exactly the same problem on Evelyn estate and but unfortunately it has not yet been resolved. The failure to resolve the problem is clearly my fault since I haven't got round to chasing Lewisham Homes/the council for the THIRD time to remind them that they said we would be getting new bins several months ago (the SECOND time of promising). We did get the leaflets telling us we would be getting new bins, but that was months ago.