Don’t get me wrong, Camden Council is carrying out daily rubbish collections on many roads in Kings Cross and they do send street sweepers around as well. A van regularly collects larger items. But it is not difficult to see, people in the borough are free to dispose of rubbish in any way and any where they like, without having to fear adverse consequences.
This is not by lack of policy, but seemingly by lack of concerted efforts of the council to enforce its own rules upon residents, so that streets are kept free of rubbish, waste and litter. Kings Cross streets are lacking therefore in significant aspects of the councils statutory maintenance brief of law and order. It is not just threatening behaviour against the person that is part of the definition of law and order (which we are made to believe is being dealt with), but also a council’s ways of managing waste, rubbish and litter.
Recycling dumped, even if containers are empty, food waste recycling almost non existant
In Kings Cross rubbish and other items are frequently disposed of of at trees, lamp posts or on the kerb or in corners along the streets. Others leave bags full of rubbish near recycling containers, even if the recycling container(s) are in fact empty and when these are full, the council often fails to remedy this, with the same effect of waste being dumped to the containers’ side. Brown waste recycling (food waste) is fully underused. Brown bins and green caddies were distributed at much expense a few years ago, but a lack of continued information and enforcement in the area has resulted in what I would guess is no more than 20 percent of households partaking in using food waste recycling (and judging from some containers with bottles and other non food waste inside them some fail to know how to use them at all). There is a near complete lack of on-kerb littering bins (for casual pedestrian waste, except near bus-stops), and there is not infrequently dog poo lying around, sometimes raw, sometimes in bags.
No law enforcement, no apparent strategy!
Has anyone ever been prosecuted with a fixed penalty in Camden for dog poo or littering, I wonder? At times there was even human poo lying around for weeks without being removed. The streets in Kings Cross (Camden side) lack a coherent strategy of keeping the street scape clean, nice and orderly. In my own contact with the Camden recycling and waste team, I was promised repeatedly, that they would take action, but that they had to remind residents of the rules first. But when you look at the rubbish continuing to be dumped day in day out at the same places, you know nothing really happens.
According to the council they can only prosecute when they find an address inside the rubbish, or see someone dumping it, but I think it is more likely that officers are not searching through any bags at all, or ever have done so ever. Also if rubbish is always being dumped at the same place and at the same time, I wonder if it is impossible to find out where it comes from, even if there is no old letter inside revealing its origin. At best the council sent a letter to all addresses in some Kings Cross streets last spring (2012) with but limited results, and no follow up re-inspection. And there is more: Not enough with littering, some folks are taking pleasure in feeding pigeons daily. In my street at least three parties keep a band of pigeons happy and fat on a daily basis and this makes streets and roofs dirty and filthy. There is a communal address on Swinton Place, whose entire entrance is pooed over. One person in the building has special medical needs, and there are also two children living in the house. I wonder what they think about the pigeon poo at their entrance? Repeated e-mails to the council on this have been ignored.
So I conclude there is no obvious intervening policy on rubbish and waste. Does the council think Kings Cross is beyond ability to change and therefore just cleans up the mess some make, without working on any ways to prevent it, to inform residents, and to catch those responsible for persistently creating such mess? If so, this lack of strategy means several things:
* high costs in cleaning up the great mess some make, where there could be but little costs if roads were kept orderly.
* lack of hygienic conditions, and danger to vulnerable people, including children and visually impaired people.
* lack of a positive and pleasant, clean and orderly atmosphere on the roads
* underachievement of statutory recycling brief, especially for food waste (at a cost)
* a question mark as to how council tax is spent here, to make our street environment better
One of the problems is that the waste collectors move the sacks next to the trees and lamp posts in the early morning for the collection. This perhaps has given some locals the false impression that these places are the focal places where rubbish should be dumped. I would suggest that waste collectors move sacks to street and kerb corners instead.
Another issue surely is the high turn-over of people living in Kings Cross. There needs to be some method of explaining the rubbish and waste policy with consistency even to new comers. But in the end the council must inspect its roads and act upon dumped waste, dog poo, rubbish, lack of or failure to recycle, and pigeon feeding. This means not just cleaning and removing the mess but preventing it to occur in the first place by looking out for those who are persistent fly-tippers or who inappropriately dispose of waste.
Kings Cross definitely also needs many more bins for normal litter and some of those special ones for dog poo.
There surely is also room for positive incentives to make roads nicer. Road flowering schemas, especially near or next to trees and lamp posts and encouraging flower baskets are but some methods I can think of, that would make people feel proud and happy of their out-door street-environment. This can often be done with the help and support of local businesses and where they exist, residents associations, who all share an interest in cleaner and nicer streets.
The rules on waste in Camden are:
- Waste must be bagged and can be left only right in front of the house door in the day time.
- Waste must not be on the kerb (pedestrian walk) or features on the kerb (like next to trees and lamp posts).
- Waste should be separated into recyclable waste and non-recycable waste as well as food waste. Brown bins are for food waste only. Paper and mixed recycling (tins, aluminium, recyclable plastics, paper and cardboard) is collected once a week (mostly on Monday) and can be put in green boxes or bags if available.
- Dog-poo must be removed, bagged and safely disposed off.
- Special arrangements must be made for bulky waste items. Some are removed without charge, but there are places and ways these must be put.
- Pigeons are not to be fed.
- Rat and mice infestation should be reported to both the landlord and /or the council depending on the severity of the problem. See also Camden Pests