Archive: Original Homepage

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.

Courtesy of BRAG (Bloomsbury Residents Action Group)

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.

Judd Street – when has this patch ever been clean?

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.

Is this really acceptable?

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 very visible border, showing where Camden’s responsibility ends. What defence is there for this?

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.

‘ensure that no bin is ever more than 85% full or overflowing’

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.

What you can do.

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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10 thoughts on “Archive: Original Homepage

    1. Actually, it’s odd that not all of Camden is filthy – visit Hampstead Town, for example. Busy place, but remarkably clean and tidy – hardly any litter or clutter, and lots of nice signs. You think that well, that’s because it’s an expensive place to live – but so is Bloomsbury, some houses going for upwards of £8M – but even those streets aren’t kept clean. It doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s almost as though part of Camden’s identity is filth, graffiti and mess. Camden Town is the archetypal example.

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      1. And another thought – why should the rich places be kept clean and the poor places not anyway, especially in a ‘socialist’ Council!? Camden openly admit that they prioritise the non-residential areas. In the estates in the south of Kings Cross Ward, a hotspot for minority bangladeshi and somali communities, people say that cleaners only come once a week at most. Funny old world.

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  1. What a wonderful site. It’s all too easy just to sit back and grumble about why things never get done, and then something like this comes along and you realise that you are not alone, and indeed one is part of a community. At last! Thanks for all the work. Perhaps we’ll soon see a difference. Don’t give up!! A

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    1. Thank you. It was exactly the realisation that we were not the only ones making a fuss that caused us to make this website. Together we are stronger, and we are already seeing changes at the Council as a result of our sustained pressure from multiple points of attack. It seems that they’ll only act when it’s easier for them to do so than it is to ignore us all. And even then, we still have a few backup plans if things don’t change soon…. stay posted.

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  2. I am so relieved that others feel the same way. Our area has fallen into filth and we’ve been littered not only with rubbish but with lies – as your posts have exposed. I’ve dealt with the Council in similar ways and experienced much of the same. It’s very sad. There is so much wasted money, ridiculous bureaucracy, and under-the-surface corruption in Camden Council. It seems like they do not actually serve us – their residents. Thank you for telling these stories for us – I really hope word will spread about what you’ve shared and that change will come. We’ve had enough – we have to fight back for our rights!

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    1. Yes, who do they serve? Seemingly they only do things when they’re afraid that something bad might happen to them, which is really backwards. Everyone seems to have forgotten that they are paid by our taxes to work for us. They seem to work just like a business, except that you can’t choose not to buy their services! Just like the street cleaners. We all pay for a multi million street cleaning service, but it doesn’t work – and we can’t choose to go elsewhere, because it’s the law to pay for it, even if they don’t do what you pay for! Funny old world.

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  3. Really pleased that people care about how we live and behave in Bloomsbury. Sick of seeing so much tat, litter laying around and idle street cleaners in this area, I am not imagining it, I see this every day. We need to take pride in our environment because it affects us all, and our local council should have no hesitation in taking pride in keeping Bloomsbury clean and safe for us all. I still find it hard to reconcile why other areas are kept clean, free from tripping hazards and dirty contaminated waste relatively easiy and it is such an uphill struggle getting someone to pay attention in Camden.

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  4. Thank you so much! I’ve made a ton of complaints over 13 years and they’ve always treated me like I was the only one making a fuss. It’s stupid – they have to spend so much money clearing everything up, when they could be making money by actually fining people in the first place! There’s a bin outside my shop that everyone on the road dumps their rubbish around. I complained to the Council about this for 13 years and all they did was put a sticker on the bin saying ‘Dirty’, but as you say, that’s also really littering! Hopeless. Seems like finally something will change though now that people know the law, and that their businesses suffer from litter. Keep up the good work, we’re all behind you!

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    1. Yes, we’ve heard more or less the same story a few times. Unfortunately the bins tend to attract fly tipping, probably because they also look so tacky and damaged. What I’ve done in the past is put on some gloves and rummage through the bin bags – people are usually so stupid as to leave letters addressed to them in there. Then report them to Camden. Who knows if they do anything though, and it’s Camden’s job in the first place to actually investigate the fly tipping. As I’ve said to Camden many times, the streets are so full on bin bags all the time that it’s actually difficult to tell what is fly tipped and what isn’t.

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