Labour ‘completely admits rubbish and fly-tipping is an issue’

WHAT holds hustings ahead of council elections

Thursday, 14th April — By Richard Osley

councilpics 2019-04-11 at 12.58.16 shiva tiwari

Labour councillor Shiva Tiwari

LABOUR candidates have been told their party had failed to deal with fly-tipping in the north west of the borough – as yet again rubbish emerged as a council election flashpoint.

Council leader Georgia Gould said last summer that “not one person raised rubbish with me on the doorstep” when asked to assess why Labour lost a council by-election to the Lib Dems in Fortune Green.

But at the West Hampstead and Amenity Transport (WHAT) group’s hustings event on Thursday evening, Labour councillor Shiva Tiwari said: “I completely admit it’s an issue. We’ve got a situation where we’ve got a lovely area but far too often there is litter on the streets, there is fly-tipping on the streets.”

The issue of rubbish was one of the first questions asked of candidates from Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats as they gathered in the hall at the synagogue in Dennington Park Road.

It is a classic election debate with so many residents thinking of rubbish as one of the key services they get in return for paying council tax; even though local government aficionado are at pains to explain how it is far more complex than that.

Over the past four years, the opposition Conservatives have called for a review of Camden’s seven-year waste contract with Veolia and, as always, their manifesto includes a pledge to restore weekly bin collections to the areas of the borough where they now happen only once-a-fortnight.

Recycling is still collected from these households every seven days, and previously the switch had been partly attributed to the idea that residents needed to see that so much of what they throw away did not need to go in the refuse.

Cllr Tiwari, however, said the changs to the service were rooted in national government’s approach to council spending.
“A 67 per cent cut for council budgets,” he said.

“We’re having to make cuts so we can deliver adult social care, child services, basic services, essential services, while also trying to deliver good quality services.

“Part of that has meant cutting non recyclable waste to once a fortnight. None of us want to be in that situation but it is very much an imposition based on years of crippling austerity.”

Cllr Tiwari told the audience: “Over the past year, we have fought very hard to secure an extra daily collection of rubbish on our high streets. There is not a single street in Camden where there are more daily collections – and on top of that we have recently invested to bring another monitoring officer on board.

“No other area has more monitoring officers.”

The Conservatives told the hustings it was “convenient” that the new officer brought into help halt the mess had come “just a month before the election”.

Fortune Green candidate Hannah David told the hall: “If you walk down the street in West Hampstead now, there is rubbish everywhere – and I agree with the point that rubbish attracts rubbish.”

She added: “The measures that we would take are to impose maximum fines on the fly tippers and increased fines for littering, and making sure those fines are actually enforced.

“And we will install proper bins on the streets and not just pink boxes.”

The Lib Dems did not support a review of the Veolia contract in the council chamber amid the Tory demands, but Lib Dem candidate Will Coles told the audience on Thursday that it was clear that action needed to be taken.

“Everybody agrees that the current Veolia contract is failing and we’d like to see that overhauled, particularly the bags on the streets policy,” he said.

“The council thinks this is working well but I think most people in this room will agree that it’s not. The council is burying its head in the sand over this issue.”

Mr Coles added: “When you have rubbish bags out on the street, it attracts more rubbish. I’ve spoken to people on Mill Lane and they have people coming down the street and saying: ‘Oh, there’s a pile of rubbish, let’s throw ours there too. It will get collected anyway’.”

Mr Coles said Camden should “learn from other boroughs” and “explore our options a bit more rather than keep trying to push something which clearly isn’t working”.

WHAT are regular hosts of hustings before elections in Camden and the writer, Simon Inglis, a long-term resident in West Hampstead, was on hosting duties.

He urged the audience to look at the crisis in Ukraine and to cherish the democratic right to vote.

The polling stations will be open on May 5, although some residents will use a postal ballot before then.

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