Your Stories – Joseph Khalique-Brown

Issue Number 2

Joseph decided to write in to Camden to express his concern at the state of the streets in Bloomsbury.

Seems familiar.

It seems that unfortunately Ian Dudding is refusing to take any of our complaints seriously and is simply copying and pasting the same email, which doesn’t even make a great deal of sense.

Side note: Ian still has not replied to my email asking him about my experience with the street cleaner. I suppose he must be busy with more important things.

Joseph pointed out the oddities in this response.

Well put indeed.

I think this response highlights exactly the flaws in Ian’s auto-response. Indeed, every email that I have seen sent to the Council has started diverting attention to ‘individual areas’ – when the initial email specifies the area exactly – Bloomsbury.

And again, why should we residents have to come up with a list of defaced streets as though it is our job to carry that out. It is the job of the Council officers like Ian, not us.

And again, why is Ian talking about a multi-stakeholder group to tackle antisocial behaviour, when the complaint is about Camden’s antisocial behaviour? Very odd.

Unfortunately, Ian became quite annoyed at the flaws exposed in his approach.

Well at least he decided to write something personal for Joe.

The Fable of the Omnipotent Sweeper.

This is one story that I have had put to me multiple times by Mr. Dudding. The story of the omnipotent sweeper.

Each time that I have raised an issue with the standard of street cleaning, or the timetabling of street cleaning, I get the same thing thrown at me.

It is not possible that each street has multiple sweepers, each repeatedly sweeping a short stretch of road as soon as someone decides to drop litter etc etc.

When I met with him personally, one of the first things he told me was that obviously it isn’t possible for street cleaners to be patrolling the streets, picking up every bit of litter before it hits the ground. I thought that a rather odd thing to say and said well yes, obviously, that is not possible. I failed to see the relevance of the point, I must say.

It seems that for some odd reason, it is impossible to have an improved street cleaning service – because the only alternative is to have a whole fleet of street cleaners sweeping each street, although nobody asked for this.

Ian then goes on to talk about the model that works for them, or rather, us.

Lies and Deception.

Firstly, he says that the Code of Practice is the thing which requires Camden to keep the streets clear of litter. That is simply not true – it is the Law that requires Camden to keep the streets clear. The Code sets guidelines for how things should be done in practice. Again, in not a single response that has been forwarded to me have I seen any employee of the Council acknowledge that point.

Ian then goes on to say that we have regular sweeper attendance in our streets. Indeed that is somewhat true, but is not really related to whether our streets are being cleaned or not, which was exactly the point of the complaint. As shown by our investigations, attendance is little more than a show.

Attendance in Regent Square.
Attendance on Bidborough Street

And then he goes on to talk about a reactive resource, which in the first place pins monitoring on residents, which is totally unfair (as the streets are supposed to be kept clear of litter and refuse), and at any rate is completely useless.

For example I reported a wheelie bin being fly tipped to the Council on 06/07/2019. It was removed on 17/07/2019 – despite the Code requiring Councils to respond to complaints here within half a day at most.

In reality, reports can be made, but they are never responded to.

And further nonsense.

Why does he start talking about someone monitoring the state of a short stretch of road, again, who asked for this? Why does he say that the streets are acceptable, when I have actually observed the streets in his presence when they have been filthy, and have only recently updated him with a folder of photos?

More points could be raised, but the one important point is this.

At what point does Ian mention the Law.

The law is this:

Camden Council shall ensure that the streets are kept clear of litter and refuse, so far as is practicable.

When up against the law, how many excuses can be made? Funding this, funding that. Reasonable this, reasonable that. Attendance, multi-stakeholder, officers, observation, etc etc. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Suppose we throw some litter on the ground and an officer chases after us. ‘You sir,’ he says, ‘that’s against the law, and I’m fining you’.

‘But no’, you say, ‘I have recently had a pay cut from the government, but I just approved a 50% increase in my salary anyway, and sold a 200 room hotel last year. I hire a monitoring officer to check my litter, I asked people to report my littering, it just isn’t reasonable to throw this away. I’ve recently made a complaint about antisocial behaviour, there’s loads of litter here anyway. Thank you for your opinion, which I note. There’s two stations nearby as well sir! I need a fleet of bins lining every inch of the pavement, a fleet of cleaners to catch the litter before it hits the ground, a fleet of officers to inspect the ground with a magnifying glass. I’ve just investigated this patch of ground so far as is reasonably practicable, and in fact there’s no litter here. Thank you sir, good day.’

Would this approach work?

We cannot reason against the law. The law is the law, and Camden are breaking it. There can be no excuses.

23/08/201921:06

Published by owardkx

I am a resident of Queen Alexandra Mansions, in Bloomsbury. I am also a committee member of Bloomsbury Residents' Action Group and of the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee, each working to protect residents and heritage in Bloomsbury.

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