Pressure mounts on council over street litter

Council blames pandemic for waste problems but residents demand reintroduction of weekly collections, reports James Cracknell

Black bags of litter piled up next to a bus stop in Great Cambridge Road, Enfield
Bags of litter piled up next to a bus stop in Great Cambridge Road, Enfield

Piles of putrid rubbish frequently found all over Enfield borough have prompted residents to launch two petitions calling on the council to act.

The introduction of fortnightly waste collections by Enfield Council in March 2020 has been blamed for increasing incidences of fly-tipping, street litter and overflowing bins, with both petitions calling for weekly collections to be reinstated, as well as other measures to help clean up the borough’s streets.

In recent months the Dispatch has seen numerous examples of regular household waste being piled up in black bags next to street bins, suggesting residents have run out of room in their own household wheelie bins. Litter in parks has also become an increasing problem with bins frequently overflowing.

One petition on the 38 Degrees website is titled “Stop our neighbourhood becoming a dump” and states: “We are outraged and appalled by the increasing incidences of fly-tipping in the area, which has become a major problem. What were once quiet suburban roads, parks and beauty spots are now hotspots for dumping of all manner of illegal waste.”

The second petition is titled “Restore weekly rubbish collections in Enfield” and is on the website. It states: “Our streets are full of rubbish with illegal dumping happening every day.”

The council denies the change to household bin collections is to blame for the problem and has highlighted the role of the pandemic – which coincidentally started the same month – in leading to more domestic waste being generated by people spending more time at home.

As well as the reintroduction of weekly domestic collections, the two petitions call for more investment in street cleaning, enforcement of fly-tipping laws, and for cheaper – or free – bulky waste collections to help those who cannot drive. In total, they have been signed by more than 1,000 people.

An overflowing bin in Forty Hall Park
An overflowing bin at Forty Hall Estate, a common sight during the pandemic as more people visit parks

Opposition councillors also want to see Barrowell Green, the council’s only public recycling centre, end the current appointments system introduced at the start of the pandemic. Conservative group leader Joanne Laban told the Dispatch: “If you have got a lot of stuff you need to get rid of you might need two trips, which means two appointments. Most people don’t plan in advance when they will clear out their garage, they wait for a rainy day.

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“It needs to be as easy as possible for people to get rid of their waste.”

Cllr Laban pointed out that a free bulky waste collection service had previously been available in Enfield under a past Conservative administration, but was subsequently ended after Labour took control of the council in 2010. The council currently charges residents £42.20 to collect one bulky waste item.

Regarding fortnightly household waste collections, the Tory group leader said: “People are putting their rubbish bags next to litter bins in the street, probably because they have got to ten days since their last collection and filled up their own wheelie bins. That is a direct consequence of fortnightly collections.”

A council spokesperson said that appointments at Barrowell Green were now available on the same day or the next day, in contrast to earlier in the pandemic when slots were sometimes unavailable for more than a week. They added that the appointments system would be reviewed after 19th July when Covid-19 restrictions are due to ease.

It was also pointed out that fly-tipping incidents have increased nationwide during the pandemic but that they were now beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels. The council’s waste enforcement team served 568 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) in 2020/21 and issued 1,054 notices in relation to waste offences.

Rick Jewell, the council’s new cabinet member for environment, said: “Enfield Council cares deeply about keeping the borough clean and tidy. That’s why we work to remove fly tips within 24 hours of it being reported.

“Data show that historically the number of fly-tipping incidents in Enfield are below the average in London. Dumped rubbish blights our streets, it is a crime and I am disgusted by those who fly tip. Enfield Council is determined to stamp this problem out.

“We have already invested an additional £500,000 this financial year into street cleansing, but we now also have a tougher focus on enforcement and issuing penalty notices.”

On fortnightly bin collections, Cllr Jewell added: “The redesigned waste collections would not have been introduced if it weren’t for the £2.5million cut imposed by the government that specifically allowed for weekly bin collections.

“I am therefore surprised that the opposition members did not challenge this massive cut to our funding at the time. 

“The majority of people in Enfield have embraced the changes to bin collections since 2019 and are coping well, recycling more and thinking about their food waste.

“Despite pressures, Enfield Council only misses 0.13% of collections in a month. But we aim to miss no bins, therefore, if a collection is missed, we urge residents to let us know as soon as possible so that can be resolved quickly.”

Residents can report incidents of fly-tipping or street litter via the Enfield Council website:

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