Council urged to take next steps in war on plastic

Plea for more working water fountains for refills

Monday, 29th March 2021 — By Richard Osley


Plastic-free champion Lorna Russell

COUNCIL chiefs have been handed a list of ways it could cut down on the use of single-use plastic in the borough, including removing bottles from a school dinners contract and changing the cutlery at street fairs.

Labour councillor Lorna Russell, Camden’s “plastic free” champion, filed her report this week on possible strategies.

She said the Jester Festival in West Hampstead had wanted to be the first summer event to go completely plastic free last year, before it was cancelled due to the Covid crisis.

Cllr Russell said she had wanted to see a “big washing station” in Camden Market and similar areas, and a “lunchbox deposit scheme” for people buying street food.

The issue of more water fountains has also been raised, so people can refill bottles rather than buy a new one.

“I’m sure we’ll be bidding for more fountains across the borough – I  think that’s certainly a priority,” she said. “And when we do get them, they need to be put in the most sensible places.

“There’s an example at West Hampstead station where there is one of the Mayor of London’s drinking fountains but it’s behind the barriers and around the corner. That might just be a plumbing issue but to me it didn’t make sense not to have it closer to the street.”

Cllr Russell added: “The government reckons that we go through 14 billion plastic drinks bottles a year just in the UK – that’s a staggering figure.”

Schoolchildren were enthusiastic about making a difference, she told the meeting, adding that Camden needed to “make sure the Caterlink contract [school meals] is amended to stop the sale and use of plastic bottles in schools.”

She said Camden Council was “running down stocks” of its own plastic cups in the Town Hall and moving to bio-cups.

Turn on Matilda’s tap

ATTEMPTS to get a historic water fountain in Camden Town turned back on have hit a brick wall.

During a discussion on the provision of drinking water, Labour councillor Heather Johnson told a scrutiny committee on Monday that she had wanted to see the Matilda Fountain near Regent’s Park flowing again.

The Matilda Fountain [Robin Sones]

“I wanted to put some CIL (community infrastructure levy) money into getting the Matilda fountain that’s on the edge of the park in use again,” Cllr Johnson said. “I’m not sure we’d ever get permission to put a modern drinking fountain in.”

The Matilda Fountain is named after the wife of an old church warden in the area and dates back to 1878.

The bronze sculpture of a milkmaid at Gloucester Gate now has Grade II-listed protected status.

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