We are working to hold Camden to account over their intentional failure to keep our streets clear of litter, graffiti and other waste, as is required by Law.
Environmental Protection Act 1990
‘It shall be the duty of each local authority to ensure that the streets are kept clear of litter and refuse, so far as is practicable.’ – Section 89
Camden Council, by law, must keep our streets clear of litter and refuse at all times.
This is not just cans and bottles – it is any mess on the streets – old leaves, dirt and mess. Fly tipped rubbish, bin bags. Notices placed by Camden that are never removed. Bike locks left on bike railings. Graffiti and stickers attached to signposts. Roadwork signs that stay for months after the work has finished. Litter which is left around bins because they are full. Bin bags dumped on the streets for collection, despite no imminent collections.
Why does this matter?
There is well established evidence for an increase in crime and a depression in economy when an area is highly littered and vandalised, whilst also damaging mental health and undermining confidence in local governance. That means that Camden’s lack of action is putting us all at increased risk of violent crime and break-ins, whilst also lowering the number of customers that businesses receive.
Take a look at this graph of the crime rate in the Bloomsbury Ward – despite the fact that crime is underreported in our area.
The data shows that crime is not only three times higher than the Camden average, but is also increasing at three times the national rate.
And beyond the significant practical implications, Bloomsbury is a world famous historical area, founded over 300 years ago and lovingly developed and maintained by the Victorians and Edwardians for us to inherit. We, living in their homes, have a duty to do the same, and put an end to this defacement and destruction.
What have we done?
Over many months, we have corresponded with dozens of Council employees, documented the streets, and recorded evidence of their failures. We have found and followed street cleaners, documenting and assessing their work. We have researched the law, and met with activists and lawyers. And throughout all this, we have met with and continue to meet with local businesses and residents, to hear their stories, and enlist them in the cause.
What have we found?
Cleaners don’t turn up for weeks on end, leaving dead pigeons to rot and decay in the road. Councillors don’t respond to concerns raised for days, weeks, or even at all. When the cleaners do arrive, they don’t actually clean the streets, instead opting to walk around smoking, chatting, sitting on park benches, and visiting local pubs.
When reports of fly tipping are made, it takes weeks for these items to be removed, despite the law requiring them to be removed within half a day. Wheelie bins which are dumped near the Council House are not removed – they are filled by pedestrians and then emptied, despite multiple reports that they have been fly tipped.
And yet all the neighbouring areas which are not administered by Camden are kept spotless – completely free of graffiti and waste. For example, visit the British Library Piazza, or the Brunswick Centre. Or Granary Square. Oftentimes Camden Council say that the cause of the mess is Kings Cross and St Pancras – but these stations are kept spotless as well!
The only possible cause of these problems is Camden’s irresponsibility – and they are doing this intentionally.
Given all these reasons, the Council should put an immediate end to this – indeed, this should never have happened. This behaviour damages the residents, businesses, and the Council.
But the story is even worse than that.
The Council are bound by stringent national regulations on how clean our streets should be – the Law provides four categories of cleanliness – Grades A, B, C, and D. Grade A is absolutely spotless (as we might expect a kitchen to be), the Grade drops to B if there is even one piece of litter on the street (e.g. a fag end), and Grades C and D are levels which are totally unacceptable at any time, and are characterised by accumulations of litter (e.g. in telephone boxes and the like).
The Council intentionally allow the level to drop to a Grade D, and then restore it to a Grade C, and very rarely a Grade B.
But it gets even worse.
Veolia signed a contract with Camden in 2017, part of which details how the streets should be kept clean by Veolia. That contract states that Veolia will ensure that Camden abide by these national regulations, including that streets should be kept at Grade A, dropping to B at worst.
This contract details many other points which are totally ignored by Veolia.
As these services are contracted – we, the taxpayers, have already paid for them – in advance. An estimated £338M was paid for this eight year service. This money has gone into the pockets of Veolia employees and executives – but we are not receiving, or coming anywhere near to receiving, what we have all paid for.
This means that we are not ‘saving’ any money by having dirty streets. Money is not being diverted from keeping the streets clean to pay for other essential services, which might be an acceptable argument. We have already paid for spotless streets – but Veolia are cutting corners to maximise their own profits, at the cost of local residents and businesses. And Camden are not only allowing this to happen, but actually defend Veolia, and refuse to even admit that Veolia are doing any wrong at all!
This is a national outrage, and the more that we uncover, the more shocking the situation becomes.
So what can we do?
We have made contacts in the Council, Veolia, charities, and the Law. We have researched and established what is the truth, and what is lies. We have set up this website to educate residents and businesses about all that we have found, and continue to make further contacts and speak with you all.
The below link sets out what we think you can do to help.
But even knowing the situation, talking about it to people you know, and generally spreading the word, will do a great deal to bring this scandal to an end. Contact your MP, contact the press – no individual has the influence to bring this to an end, but the sum of our influences combined is more powerful than anything else.
We live here, and we work here – we are the ones that in the end, own this place.
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”– Abraham Lincoln.
The persistent filth that we live amongst is not inevitable – far from it. It is in fact inevitable that we must live amongst clean and tidy streets. It is only that whilst we don’t know that, the Council will continue to fool us all.
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