Labour councillors are joining angry residents and business owners in Wandsworth in calling for answers regarding Wandsworth Council’s poor management of refuse collection and street cleaning.
Many streets across the borough were left strewn with rubbish and uncollected refuse sacks this week, as the Council failed to inform residents of changes to their collections.
This unforeseen change occurred because the Council was forced to hand over the contract for waste collection to a new company, following the collapse of the second provider in a row.
This has led not only to a change in the day of collection, but also means the schedule for street cleaning now no longer ties in with that of waste collection – but none of this has been adequately conveyed to Wandsworth residents.
Labour strongly believes this situation has arisen due to Wandsworth Council’s poor management and financial incompetence, and that this disruption to service could have been avoided entirely.
Cllr Leonie Cooper said,
“Given the Conservative administration’s poor management, it is no surprise that residents have commented on the deterioration in the service received, as corners have seemingly been cut. This approach does not save money in the long run, as now we have seen the second company in a row go into administration. This is leaving Wandsworth residents at a great disadvantage, as uncollected waste, dirty streets and dog fouling are left to build up across the borough.”
Labour took on the Tories’ ‘Wandsworth Challenge’ at last week’s council meeting and found it wanting. The other key debates were on housing and cuts to town centre street cleaning.
Rex Osborn and James Daley dissected the Tories’ Wandsworth Challenge and concluded that there was very little of substance in their vague ‘big society’ agenda – but watch this space for large-scale cuts in the autumn.
On housing Mark Thomas and Peter Carpenter spoke about Wandsworth’s need to re-invest in social rented housing rather than spending the returns from Council house sales. The shortage of social housing in Wandsworth, they said, was a problem of the Tories’ own making.
Sheila Boswell and Leonie Cooper confronted the Tories over their cuts to street cleaning in our town centres, pointing out the opposition of local business to the reduction in the number of times our busiest streets are swept each day.
Labour councillors also asked about school crossing patrols, pay to play and cuts to the Furzedown Festival grant.
Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce has hit out at the Tories’ plan to cut back on street cleaning in the Borough’s town centres: “The chamber is concerned that the town centres are kept clean and tidy. The decision to reduce cleaning should be monitored and evaluated to ensure standards of cleanliness do not suffer. Businesses need all the support they can get right now.”
Labour’s Cllr. Sheila Boswell told a council meeting last week ‘The decision will have a detrimental impact particularly on Tooting Town Centre, Putney High Street and the shopping area around Clapham Junction. The council claims to be on the side of businesses, but this seems hollow when these cuts will do nothing to help attract shoppers, boost the night time economy or enhance residents’ enjoyment of their local shopping areas’
Tooting Broadway tube station alone has over 40,000 enters and exits each weekday – 50% of these in the late afternoon early evening, which is precisely the time daily cleansing of the busiest areas will be cut. Putney High Street already has some of the poorest air quality and highest pollution levels in London: from next April Putney residents and visitors will be faced with some of the capital’s dirtiest streets too.
Cllr. Boswell asked: ‘What’s the point of carrying out a consultation if you’re not going to consult with the most heavily affected groups in this case local businesses or where you have consulted with the public not listened to what they have to say.’
‘Before these cuts are implemented in April next year the Council must properly consult with town centre businesses and review timings for street cleaning in the new contracts to include night time rounds.’
Tory-run Wandsworth Council is to cut the number of times a week that it cleans its town centres, a move that is set to leave the Borough amongst the dirtiest in London. At a meeting of the Environment, Culture & Community Safety Committee on Monday night, Conservative Councillors voted to cut the afternoon daily cleanses of Wandsworth’s busiest areas, and agreed to abolish late night town centre cleaning once and for all. Putney High Street, Clapham Junction and Tooting Broadway – the busiest areas in the Borough – will be the worst hit by the cuts, and could quickly become some of the dirtiest areas in the capital. Wandsworth Labour Group leader, Councillor Rex Osborn said: “The Council’s scrimping on cleaning costs means that Wandsworth’s streets are already amongst the dirtiest in London, and this short sighted decision threatens to turn a problem into a crisis. “Once again, Conservative Councillors have shown that they would sooner cut valued frontline services than the bonuses of their senior employees, who are amongst the best paid civil servants in the country.” Councillor Leonie Cooper, the GLA candidate for Merton & Wandsworth and opposition speaker for Environment, Culture and Community Safety on Wandsworth Council, said: “Tooting Town Centre, Putney High Street and the popular shopping area around Clapham Junction station are the shop windows to Wandsworth – attracting thousands of visitors from outside the Borough every day. These latest cuts threaten to deter shoppers from visiting our town centres and diminish the quality of life of thousands of Wandsworth residents who live in and pass through these hubs every day.” The cuts to cleaning services are scheduled to come into force in April next year, following the recent retendering of Council waste management contracts. For the first time companies were invited to tender for the contracts based on “core” and “non-core services”. Late-night street cleansing and late-afternoon/early evening washing down of pavements and streets were considered by Conservative councillors to be non-essential services. Yet 48% of local residents opposed these proposed reductions to town centre cleaning.