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Refuse Collection
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Ooperlooper


Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #1
22-10-2007 11:27 PM

When we moved recently, it took over a year and several dozen requests to our council and councillors to get our refuse collected with any regularity.

The monumentally incompetent service and incredulous lack of will to try to do anything about it despite almost weekly complaints over such a long period has made me wonder why local authorities still have a monopoly on refuse collection.

Imagine if you could choose your refuse collection company in the same way you could choose a window cleaner, garderner, babysitter, etc.

If they didn't show up, regular as clockwork on the right days (or at all, I my case) you'd be able to 'fire' them and simply switch to another provider.

Likewise if they were overcharging, or if you wanted a company that would recycle more, or whatever.

Obviously there'd still have to be some work by the public sector, such as setting and monitoring standards by which the companies would have to operate, and prosecuting individuals who were not paying for collections, dumping their waste in other people's bins, etc, but I don't think this would outweight the benefits.

Does anyone know whether this has ever been considered, and if so why privatisation has not been tried?

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roz


Posts: 1,793
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
22-10-2007 11:57 PM

I have to say, OL, that refuse is the one thing that rarely seems to go wrong around our way. I find the service very good and always have done. You may be particularly unlucky, perhaps?
I suspect the Council monopoly has something to do with this not being a very attractive business proposition and a likely loss maker. I believe it costs thousands to collect rubbish with fines imposed by central government if targets for recycling arent met.

In respect of opportunties for choice, it has taken me several years to locate a window cleaner and an occasional gardener for our property, hence the potential for switching providers does not exist for us. Thankfully they are both very good. However in todays market I remain grateful that they choose to show up at all.

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bigjulie


Posts: 68
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #3
23-10-2007 10:22 AM

I have a similar experience to Roz - the service is excellent. I don't think privatising is a good idea. It adds the element of someone making a profit out of it, therefore the pressure is on cutting corners. Look what happened to privatising cleaning hospitals - a complete disaster. There would also be duplication of systems, machinery, vehicles etc. which is not logical and you could have several dustcarts going down the same road on the same day - not very 'green'.
I have to say the guys that come down our road are also very friendly.

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Sherwood


Posts: 1,355
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #4
23-10-2007 11:35 AM

Generally, refuse collection is something that Lewisham Council (now a 4 star council, i.e. excellent) gets right.
Problems often occur for houses on corners. The collectors often think the house is in the road round the corner and do not collect the refuse.
Rarely, they cannot collect. I remember seeing one wheelybin nearby completely full of bricks! assuming that the collectors could move it, the handles would just come off the bin if they attached it to the lifting gear!
Keep reporting your non-collection to the Council 020 8314 7171.

I don't think privatisation would help in this case. Many people would just dump their rubbish in the street or on wasteground such as the Shipman Road site used to be.

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Ooperlooper


Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #5
23-10-2007 09:13 PM

I don't understand your logic about it being a loss-maker, Roz. Imagine if taxis were run by local authorities, and you could get a taxi anywhere for, say, ?2, with the rest of the cost being subsidised through taxes. If you then privatised the taxis and got rid of the subsidy, and prices went up to the ones we know today, society would still be paying the same price overall, as the taxes for the subsidy would no longer need to be collected. My point is that privately run refuse collection companies would simply have to set their prices realistically and they'd make a profit.

They would need to be licensed and monitored to check that they meet reasonable standards, such as meeting recycling targets, with fines or revokations of their licences if they didn't. Many privately run businesses do this already, for example restaurants have to meet standards for hygiene.

I'm not convinced either that the problem of fly tipping couldn't be largely overcome. It could be compulsory to have a refuse collection contract, in a similar way that it's compulsory to have insurance if you drive a car, with punishments if you fail to pay.

Refuse collection may, for most people and most councils, be a service that meets reasonable standards (though I recently saw a couple of Lewisham employees on London Road inexplicably attempting to tip the contents of one wheelie bin into another and spilling litter all over the pacement in the act), but that doesn't necessarily mean that the service is good value. It's not that hard to imagine getting the same or a better value service after privatisation.

I'll admit that it might be a bit less green for several trucks to go down the same street...can't have everything.

Does anyone know whether privatisation of refuse collection has ever actually been tried, either in the UK or any other countries?

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Sherwood


Posts: 1,355
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #6
23-10-2007 09:54 PM

Yes it has. There was CCT compulsory competitive tendering for this service some years ago. Lewisham Council's DirectTeam won the contract with the lowest bid.

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millesens


Posts: 65
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #7
24-10-2007 03:04 PM

I am always the first person to moan and complain on this site, especially with regards to our Council performance. In this instance however I have to admit that refuse collection in Forest Hill has always been very good for us. I moved once within the area but in both locations the service was and is punctual and efficient. I wish I could say the same thing for ENVIROCALL !!!

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Ooperlooper


Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #8
25-10-2007 10:22 PM

Competitive tendering is certainly a good thing, but not quite the same thing.

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AMFM


Posts: 306
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #9
26-10-2007 04:12 PM

OL - I think you may be in a minority on this one. I have always found the refuse collection on our street to be regular as clockwork. I have no problem with privatisation in certain sectors but I honestly think that this is one where the council does deliver.

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RussB


Posts: 15
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #10
26-10-2007 04:58 PM

For us the actual collection seems OK, but living in a flat that's part of a converted house we do feel like second class citizens when it comes to the receptacles provided for refuse.

Most houses on our street seem to get one black wheelie bin and one green one. For some reason the flats we're in get one black wheelie bin between two flats and one small green box between two flats for recycling. We've asked the council to provide additional green boxes for recycling, and every time we get a polite "yes, no problem" followed by masterly inactivity.

Oh and they never put the bins back properly...

Having said all that it's much better than we used to get in Lambeth.

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Sherwood


Posts: 1,355
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #11
27-10-2007 08:34 PM

RussB,

I think you can get green wheelybins for recycling.

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millesens


Posts: 65
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #12
28-10-2007 01:05 PM

Residents should put out their bins on the designated day for the Council staff to collect the refuse. It the residents duty to retrieve their empty bins and take them back onto their front garden/ private property anyway. There seems to be a problem in Forest Hill with residential black and green bins left out on pavements all the time. They have no reason to be left there. Together with old mattresses/fridges/other junk left in people s front garden they make our streets an eye sore. I can never understand why people do that (If you don t want it in your house why would you want it in your front garden?) Problems seem to arise Victorian house have been converted into a multitude of flats or bed sits and refuse facilities were not provided accordingly. Although it may be quite difficult to obtain another bin from the Council (and it really shouldn't be!!), people should talk to their landlord/freeholder and ask them to build decent facilities where all refuse and recycling bins should be stored. They should not be left on public pavements.

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #13
07-02-2009 08:34 PM

Has anybody contacted the council about the above. No collection this week. I am not complaining but just wondering are they coming on usual day next week as have to put bin out otherwise not collected.

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Ghis


Posts: 321
Joined: Jan 2007
Post: #14
07-02-2009 10:06 PM

In our street they collected today. I was quite impressed. Our normal collection is Wednesday and the road an pavements were not safe at all on Wednesday still, so I was not surprised at all. Seeing the guys doing the normal collection at 6am this morning (a Saturday!) and the recycling at 1pm was a good surprise.

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helen


Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #15
13-03-2009 11:00 PM

I also was impressed by the removal of rubbish over the snow period, and in general the service is very good.
HOWEVER, i have a real problem with the lack of green waste facilities with Lewisham council. To dispose of the compostable debris from you garden you are required to purchase a black plastic bag from a local Lewisham library at ?1 a bag in order for the bin men to take it away. When i inquired as to the disposal of these bags, from a staff member of said council, i was told they would end up in mine fields!!
At this point i would like to point out that our neighbours southwark provide entire wheely bins for this purpose at no extra charge!!
It makes my blood boil.
Anybody got any bright ideas??

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shzl400


Posts: 729
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #16
14-03-2009 08:53 PM

We compost all our own kitchen and garden waste. A shredder is really useful for the larger stuff and stuff that doesn't rot very well on its own like ivy and leylandii prunings Anything that's too big for the shredder goes to make kindling for our open fire. So no need for brown bin or council collection.

I did hear thatLewisham were trialling a brown bin scheme in one area, but don't know the results yet.

I wonder if there would be scope for somewhere like One Tree Hill Allotments or Devonshire Road Nature Reserve to take in garden waste and compost it?

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