Please see the below response from Brent council regarding our recycling consultation:
Thank you for your email to Cllr Sheth dated 14 August 2022. I have been asked to provide a response.
Firstly, thank you for providing feedback to the council’s Waste and Street Cleansing consultation on behalf of the Mapesbury Residents Association (MapRA).
We appreciate MapRA’s continued interest and involvement in the delivery of our key environmental services.
I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the specific queries and comments raised in your email. I have responded to each point in turn below.
If you should have any further queries or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.
1. Changes to collections. We understand the motivation for change (i.e. to improve quality of recycled material) but have a few concerns:
A. Whether people will understand the new system; some people don’t even understand the current system.
One of our overarching objectives, in response to feedback received during last year’s ‘Let’s Talk Climate: Waste and Green Spaces’ conversation, is to help make it easier for residents to do the right thing and recycle. We will ensure that any changes to services are fully communicated to residents in advance of implementation, via both the council’s and our contractor’s communications channels. Our Education, Communication and Outreach team will spearhead the delivery of this communication within Brent, and will be key to ensuring residents feel supported and are able to understand the new service and how to dispose of their waste correctly.
B. Will people have the space for the sack and is it weather proof (or are people expected to keep it indoors)?
We can confirm that the sacks for ‘fibre’ recyclables will be weatherproof, durable and reusable. They are also weighted, allowing them to be left outside even when empty without being blown away. Alternatively, they can be folded and taken indoors if residents prefer, which should help those who have limited external space for the storage of bins.
C. How can Council encourage compliance with the new scheme?
As mentioned previously, our Education, Communication and Outreach team will play a crucial role in ensuring residents are supported in understanding the new service and in disposing of their waste correctly. Repeated instances of non-compliance from particular households or streets would, in the first instance, see targeted support being provided to those residents to understand and help alleviate any perceived barriers to the correct disposal of their waste. Beyond this, our Waste Enforcement team will continue to do their usual work to hold repeated offenders to account.
D. What is the evidence that this change increases recycling?
Due to the ongoing procurement process for the new street cleansing and waste contract, we are unable to share specific details of the boroughs and data we have looked at when considering the potential impacts of the proposed service on recycling rates, as this can be linked back to specific bidders.
What we can say is that we have considered data from a number of other London boroughs that have introduced this service in recent years, particularly those who have a similar waste resource and demographic profile to Brent, and this data has shown a positive increase to recycling rates in those boroughs when this service change has been introduced.
E. Can we be assured that items collected are not just lumped together in one place (we hear that in some councils this happens)
Our contractor must follow strict codes of practice to ensure that waste is properly separated, processed and treated.
Our contract for the new service will clearly define the requirement for the contractor to collect ‘fibre’ materials separately from other recyclable material, thus reducing the risk of cross-contamination at collection. Non-compliance with this contract can be dealt with by the Council and other agencies in a number of ways.
2. Small items collection service. We welcome this as long as the lead-time for collection is short.
Thank you for your feedback, and the comment regarding lead-times is noted. The process for booking and collection of small items is yet to be finalised, and we will share more details with residents once this service is introduced.
3. Changes to support for recycling. Welcome the move to bring education in-house.
Thank you for your feedback.
4. Changes to street cleaning: Generally we agree with need to make it more focussed, but we have some concerns:
A. Sometimes the quality of street cleaning is poor with items left or only part of the street cleaned
Service quality concerns, where monitored and justified, will be taken up with the successful contractor as part of the contract management process. We will have robust contract management procedures in place for the new contract, and are confident we can hold the successful contractor to account for poor service delivery.
B. How can Council incentivise people to report issues (such as reporting fly-tipping)?
We find that people will report issues to the council when it is made easy and intuitive for them to do so. We have worked hard over the years to help make is easier for residents to report street cleansing issues to the council, for example through the introduction of the LoveCleanStreets app. Going forward and as part of the new contract, we will continue to find ways to enhance residents’ ability to report issues and, importantly, for us to communicate what has been done about it.
Beyond this, street cleansing is something that we can all collectively contribute to, ensuring that as a borough we are meeting our responsibilities towards the climate and environment. As a council, we will continue to encourage residents to be involved in the maintenance and cleanliness of their local areas and will look to provide support where we can to help.
C. We believe the current street cleaning programme (main roads swept once a day, side roads once a week) is appropriate given the amount of litter generated. Is there a particular reason why the change is being proposed, ie is it budget-related? Less frequent cleaning will only make the current situation worse.
While the affordability of the new contract is an important consideration for the council, the proposed solution for street cleansing is ultimately one which we believe not only saves money, but offers greater flexibility and allows us to make the best use of our resources by directing that resource responsively and intelligently to where it is needed most, based on data.
It is important to note that while the proposed approach may result in a less frequent sweep for certain streets, equally it may result in an enhanced sweep for others based on need. These frequencies will be kept under constant review, and there is flexibility to allow for change should there be a change in demand over time. In addition, any reduction to scheduled sweeping will also be mitigated by the rapid response units patrolling each Brent Connect area, who will be tasked with being responsive to resident, councillor and officer reports of streets falling below acceptable levels.
D. Many local people do litter-picking. How can this be encouraged?
We encourage residents to do voluntary litter-picking in their areas if they feel willing and able. Please contact us if you would like support from the council with this activity.
E. Much will depend on the speed to Council’s response to requests for streets to be cleaned
We will have a robust set of measures in the contract specifying the response times for each street that falls below a certain grade, which the successful contractor will need to abide by.
F. How can our Resident’s Association help in the changes?
We welcome MapRA’s support for the proposed changes and hope that our responses have provided some reassurance to assuage your concerns.
Should these proposals be implemented, we would appreciate your continued support and involvement in encouraging residents to do the right thing by recycling more, correctly disposing of their waste, and reporting issues where necessary. We are also open to any further suggestions from yourselves as to how you would be willing to support.
G. Can some street dustbins be restored in key locations (e.g. next to bus stops) to help reduce littering?
While we have retained on-street litter bins for our high-streets and highest footfall areas, this service was previously withdrawn from residential streets as it was found not to provide value for money. It should be considered that on-street litter bins also attract fly-tipping, which lessens the benefits they have in respect of helping to alleviate littering.
Senior Environmental Services Strategy and Change Officer
Regeneration and Environment