Hundreds living in King Street flats denied the chance to recycle

The average recycling rate for England is 43.7 per cent. The rate for Hammersmith and Fulham is 23.2 per cent – leaving us near the bottom of the table in 343rd place out of 350.

That is obviously an environmental cost. But also a financial one. The cost to the Council is £90 a ton for general waste which is incinerated and £67 a ton for recycling.

It is always more of challenge for densely populated area to achieve a good recycling rate. However a pretty basic start is allowing residents the chance to recycle.

This week I have talking to residents in King Street living in the flats above the shops and restaurants.

One told me: “It’s probably been three years since we left had recycling bags delivered.” Others have give me the same message. I believe that this problem applies to hundreds of residents.

I have asked the Council for an explanation…

If Westminster Council can tackle “idling” why can’t H&F?

Local residents complain that lorries being used for the building work on the Sovereign Court development are routinely leaving their engines running while parked in Glenthorne Road. This practice is known as “idling”. Under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002 the law states that is an offence to idle your engine unnecessarily when stationary.

But Hammersmith and Fulham Council doesn’t seem to do much about it.

Westminster Council has introduced £80 Penalty Charge Notice for “idling”. The main point about it is a deterrent. Only around 20 fines have been issued but that is because of the 20,000 drivers approached by “air marshals” the overwhelming majority have readily agreed to switch off their engines. I have asked Hammersmith and Fulham Council if we have any plans to do the same.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has had an “Air Quality Commission”. In evidence to it one local resident David Cashman wrote:

“I am a 73 year old resident of Askham Court Sheltered Housing scheme. My flat is directly opposite the newly built Queensmill School for children with autism in Askham Road, W12. Children are brought to the school from a wide area in Ford diesel mini-buses in the morning and collected again mid-afternoon. Ten or more buses queue in Askham Road for up to 20 minutes to enter the school forecourt to drop-off and pick-up the children (see attachments). Most drivers run their vehicle engines on idle while they wait, regardless of seasonal temperatures. I endeavored to make school forecourt staff aware of both the illegality of idling vehicals while stationary and the possible adverse health effects on the children and others from inhaling diesal/nitrogen dioxide fumes. I gave them a print-out of the Air Quality Commission post of 11th August 2015 on the H&F website which declared the Council’s determination to tackle the ‘deadly problem of air pollution’ in the borough.

As a result of that action I was introduced to a HATS bus company supervisor who assured me that drivers would be instructed to follow correct procedure to switch off engines while stationary outside the school. My intervention has had no effect. Drivers continue to idle their vehicles.

On their website HATS state, ‘all vehicles are LEZ compliant… we are working toward the latest Euro 5 emission standard’. I understand that the World Health Organization has classified diesel exhaust as carcinogenic and that there is no safe level for humans. In the light of this statement I am concerned for the health of the children in the mornings aboard buses that are parked tight behind each other and where exhaust fumes could be entering vehicle cabs. I am also concerned about the general level of pollution and its effect on my fellow elderly sheltered housing residents as well as other people in my neighborhood.

I would like to bring the situation described above to the attention of the Commission and also request an urgent investigation to establish whether the circumstances in Askham Road require immediate action by H&F Council. I notice that H&F Council do not have dedicated enforcement officers to issue fixed penalty notices under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002 to drivers who ignore requests to turn off stationary engines. I urge the Commission to recommend the introduction of enforcement officers. Their presence would have ensured an immediate solution to the idling problem in Askham Road. I look forward to your response.”

An idling engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion.

Research has shown that air pollution is a “particular concern for child health, as it can stunt lung growth and affect lung capacity”.

Matters were made much worse by Gordon Brown’s disastrous 2001 Budget which encouraged motorists to switch from petrol to diesel – the result of the EU being lobbied by vested interests.

Anyway it’s all very well for the Council to virtue signal, set up commissions and say it is “listening” to these concerns. But we need action. Clean air not hot air!

As I’ve noted before at present the the £22 million Public Health budget is largely wasted. Why not employ a few “air marshals”? Why not provide them with the power to impose a penalty of those who refuse to stop poisoning us and our children?

 

 

 

Rat population in H&F up by a third – is the shortage of litter bins to blame?

The Council tells me that the Council’s pest control department had 740 complaints about rats in the last financial year 2016/17. That compares with 555 in 2013/14 before Labour took over. So an increase of a third. The total scale of the problem will be much higher as many people employ free enterprise, rather than municipal, rat catchers.

It could have been worse. At least Labour retreated on their proposal to scrap weekly bin collections.

But the problem has surely been exacerbated by the decline in standards of street cleaning. Overflowing litter bins have become an all too common sight on our parks and high streets. We need more of them and they need to be emptied more frequently.

As Robert Browning wrote in The Pied Piper of Hamelin:

“At last the people in a body
To the Town Hall came flocking: 
“‘Tis clear,” cried they, “our Mayor’s a noddy;
And as for our Corporation — shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can’t or won’t determine
What’s best to rid us of our vermin!
You hope, because you’re old and obese,
To find in the furry civic robe ease?
Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we’re lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we’ll send you packing!”
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.”

 

 

 

 

Let’s clear away the telegraph poles

An interesting request from Richard Owen for the removal telegraph poles in his street – Overstone Road in Hammersmith.

He says:

“The majority of London streets have dispensed with them, and the poles plus cobweb of wires make a significant visual impact in a historic conservation area. We are due a major repair programme to pavements and roadway in the next few years and that might also be an opportunity to take out the poles.”

These pictures of Cerrigydrudion High Street – ironically courtesy of the “Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society” – show what a difference removing the clutter makes.

 

 

Flooding in King Street and Goldhawk Road – the Council must ensure street drainage is not blocked

After the recent flooding incidents a resident emailed to say:

“Can I just mention regarding the recent flooding in King Street that we may not have had such a river on King Street if all the street drainage was not blocked due to lack of maintenance on the councils part.

“All over the borough when the rain is extremely  heavy as it was recently there were ponds forming on all streets due to blocked street drainage.

“It seems that the councils policy is to let them all block up and then send the maintenance crew out to deal with the matter in one hit rather than have a regular service on this important water clearing system and of course they get caught out when you get something like the burst we got in king st and street drainage fails  .

“I had to have emergency callout service to deal with flooding outside my own house due to recent heavy rains and street drainage all blocked up.”

The Council’s Flood Risk Manager tells me:

“With regards to the burst water main on King Street, once the water receded, the highway gullies were cleaned.  Only 2 gullies in the affected area were found to be blocked.  However due to the water main burst, the sediment which makes up the road base was flushed into the carriageway and subsequently flushed into the highway gullies, meaning once the pot was full of material from the water main burst, no more water could flow into the gully.  Additionally the amount of water from water mains burst was such that the water was not able to drain through the gullies quick enough, added to this was the pressure of the water, forcing the water to spread further until the pressure dissipated.

“In Weltje Road there are two blocked gullies that are with our drainage contractors for repair, one is opposite number 59, at the junction with King Street and the other is at the junction with Upper Mall.  These are in the programme and should be repaired by April 2018.

“Gully cleansing in Hammersmith and Fulham is undertaken on a programmed basis, with reactive cleansing undertaken when required.  Furthermore we are undertaking a large gully repair programme in the borough, aiming to repair some of the historical drainage issues we have on the public highway in the borough.”

Of course the recent instances have been the responsibility of Thames Water. But it is also obvious that keeping the drains clear means that flooding – whether from heavy rain or burst pipes – can be mitigated more effectively. This is a basic priority for the Council.

There were 17,873 fly-tipping incidents recorded in Hammersmith and Fulham last year. Number of prosecutions? Seven

Last month I noted the most recent official data that in 2016/17 there were 14,870 incidents of fly-tipping recorded in our borough.

Now we have some more recent figures that confirm the situation has got even worse – while the number being prosecuted by the Council is tiny.

A Freedom of Information request which has just been published asked about calendar rather than financial years. For last year we learn that 17,873 fly-tipping incidents were recorded in Hammersmith and Fulham. The number of prosecutions undertaken by the Council was just seven.

Here is the trend:

“The number of fly-tipping incidents which were reported to your local council in each of the last five years.

Number of fly tipping incidents in 2014 = 8,188

Number of fly tipping incidents in 2015 = 10,649

Number of fly tipping incidents in 2016 = 13,470

Number of fly tipping incidents in 2017 = 17,873

The number of fly-tipping prosecutions made in your authority in each of the last five years

Number of fly tipping prosecutions in 2013 = 4

Number of fly tipping prosecutions in 2014 = 8

Number of fly tipping prosecutions in 2015 = 19

Number of fly tipping prosecutions in 2016 = 6

Number of fly tipping prosecutions in 2017 = 7″

In terms of enforcement it is even worse than those figures suggest as the use of Fixed Penalty Notices has been abandoned.

It’s no wonder that people feel they can get away with it. The shocking reality is that they can. That needs to change.

Let’s replace the missing tree in Cromwell Avenue

Cromwell Avenue is off King Street just along from the Town Hall. It has a splendid line of trees. But it could be even better. There is a missing tooth. When will it be replaced?

The Council’s Principal Arboricultural Officer says:

“A decayed Plane tree was removed in 2006 from the central planter. This was not replaced because the row of nine remaining mature trees still provided substantial cover. Clearly, in the future if more trees are removed we will need to consider a replacement strategy to ensure continuing tree cover.”

We should not wait. Let’s come up with a strategy to plant a replacement tree now.