This is the first chapter of three telling the story of a resident’s experience with the Council. It is useful to read this to understand how and why this movement has begun, and what you might expect from the Council.
29th June 2019:
I initially corresponded with the Council over plans to improve the area of Bloomsbury immediately around where I live, Queen Alexandra Mansions.
We always suffered from problems with rough sleepers using our entrances, then leaving all their rubbish, including drug waste, for us to clear up. The neighbourhood still suffers from those problems but not on our doorsteps, but on those of neighbouring buildings. Bear in mind, this is all directly outside a primary school.
I was aware of how littered the area was in general, and thought that the Council did a pretty good job of keeping things clean enough. I as a well meaning resident just wanted to help out in some way, to make things better for the residents of QAM, and the primary school children.
I made suggestions that I thought were good and politely asked for funding to carry these out.
They were pretty simple – just to install more bins. I mentioned how £40M was being spent on the Town Hall, so perhaps some of that budget could be used on our area. I had recently tried to make the area a little nicer by making a flowerbed on Hastings Street, but this had been pretty quickly destroyed. I had taken some photos of the litter as evidence to back up my case. Those photos are here:
I received a response confirming that my suggestions would be looked into. I was hopeful that something would change.
However nothing changed. In fact things became worse.
Over the next couple of weeks, the streets became filthy. I noticed that a wheelie bin had appeared on my road – I wondered if it had been put there by the Council as a temporary measure. I asked the Councillor about this.
I never received a response from Jonathan about this, or in fact, anyone.
I still, two months later, have not heard back from Jonathan about my suggestions, despite reminders. Jonathan Simpson is the ‘Camden Councillor for Promoting Culture and Communities’.
I reported the bin via their online app, more than once. Nothing happened. Seeing the state of the streets, I began taking a photo diary of the streets around where I lived.
Eventually the bin was taken away, but it raised some important questions. What are the Council doing if it takes them weeks just to work out if a bin belonged to the Council or not? What is the role of the Councillors if when you actually ask them to do something, they just ignore you? I had seen the bin get filled up with rubbish many times, and simply emptied by Veolia, rather than removed. Why was that?
Over all this time, I had seen the area build up with a phenomenal amount of rubbish. I had never seen anything build up like this before. Was it just because I hadn’t been paying attention?
I did some research into the regulations regarding street cleanliness. I eventually came across the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In that is a clause which specifically states that duty bodies, such as Camden Council, must keep streets clear of litter, so far as is practicable.
This raised the question – if it is indeed the law, then why isn’t the Council abiding by the law?
II – What happened next.