Throughout October and November the campaign has kept up correspondence. A physical check of the situation locally shows little improvement however some change has been noted and rubbish still comes and some of it goes. The fact is there remains on the ground in our community a significant amount of rubbish – enough to affect people’s well-being and mindset. Nobody wants to live in a Fly Tipping Hotspot.
Last week Adam Holloway MP reported that a meeting with the enforcement manager for Gravesham gave details of the issues facing the enforcement team. This came after Kent Police reported two successful investigations via Facebook. Public concern was echoed in the size of fines and the limited powers of the enforcement team. We think the criminal justice system aren’t supporting the community as fines and punishments are not enough to deter further dumping on public and private land or pay for the damage and clearance. The meeting suggested that the performance of enforcement can be improved to the point of catching people at it.
In November, as the autumn leaves clear, rubbish that has been in situ under the bushes for four years or more comes back into sight. This particular hotspot has been visited several times to be “cleared” (even this year). The content comprises a number of long term deposits in place for more than two years.
100m further on, a Fly-Tipped deposit of approx. half a tonne was made, and cleared within three weeks. It was deposited right next to another dump comprising several years’ worth of uncollected mixed waste – about a tonne. Only the most recent deposit was cleared. The collecting vehicle drove by several other deposits in the lane without collecting them, much the same as we reported in September.
To us, enforcement is about getting the workforce to do its job, and get it right first time, not just trying to catch people at it.
Delivering a Borough to be Proud of
We wrote to Gravesham Council who claim in their 2020 Edition Annual Report 2019/2020 that our streets are now cleaner after investing in street cleaning teams. Like it promised during the local election. To us the clearance of all the rubbish from the streets of Gravesham seems like a good aim requiring more than £10000 investment and a program consisting of a planned set of work packages.
Because of the state of our particular hotspots we see “same old”. Not convinced by the situation on the ground whether we are being bamboozled, We have asked for sight of the plan.
Due to the amount of rubbish still being deposited, and the hap hazard nature and timing of its removal we do not see how the borough will actually come clean or when.
So far there is no response to this simple request and our plan is to present our petition to the council in early 2021. What we want to see is service data, together with the plan, with resource plans, work packages and timescales, communications plan, and issue and risk mitigation etc. Also physical evidence that financial waste is being eliminated while the tip is open and any barriers to its use – such as the KCC rubble tax are minimised.
One more thing. We do see change. The recent appointment of a caretaker in a local estate has made an impact on the overall condition of the area. This is the type of change we would welcome – somebody with an interest and the means to deal with it there and then.
Thank you for supporting us. Our petition stands at 130 people and has been running for four years. Please share locally and encourage friends to sign it. We are grateful for the support of Facebook groups Gravesham Then and Now and Gravesend Riverside Town. We also post in Gravesham Borough Councils Facebook Page but rarely get a response.
Merry Christmas and Stay Safe.
To whom it may concern.
This report is made on behalf of the Come Clean! Gravesham Campaign, whose petition stands at 113 to date. The campaign began 4 years ago in Westcourt, in the Borough of Gravesham, started by neighbours who found themselves living in an uncontrolled Fly-Tipping Hotspot. The petition can be viewed at the following link.
The current aim is to support the delivery of a clean environment by central and local government, in line with their objectives for safer and healthy communities, We work by highlighting the reality of the situation and identifying the issues until they lead to change.
This report, compiled between 28th September and 6th October 2020, is one of a series highlighting the persistent fly-tipping and littering in the Westcourt area.
The focus this time is on Doria Drive which is typically as fouled, as the rest of Westcourt.
(Previous reports circulated during 2019 and 2020, have focused on uncleared Fly-Tipping Hotspots between Medhurst Crescent, Barr Rd, Freeman and Cruden Road.)
In Doria Drive, the area which our school children travel on foot between home and school, (which is often their play space), is heavily fouled. This hasn’t always been so.
There is the air of a wilful decision to withhold cleaning services in this area brought about by frequent visits by council owned vehicles and the ever present number of rubbish dumps.
A good deal of the material being deposited is household waste, however notably there is a good deal of rubble, and some tyres in the mix. These are items which the community specifically asked KCC not to tax people to dispose of. We said imposing a rubble and tyre tax would create a residue in our environment, but this fact was washed over in the decision making, has since been denied to us by KCC.
We were recently asked “what sort of mindset dumps rubbish on the street and walks away?” This is not for us to answer. What we do know is that in Westcourt, from reception class through to senior school, our children traverse heaps of rubbish dumped on our green space and filthy walkways on a daily basis. This risks the situation becoming normalised and “OK”.
Because living in other people’s rubbish creates an impact on self-esteem, well-being and a visible inequality, it is not OK.
It is not OK to leave long standing rubbish in our environment. For one thing, it sends the wrong message, contradicting the environmental teaching of schools, and honest families.
Here we report the condition of Doria Drive in a snapshot taken over the period of a week – starting on 28th Sept 2020.
Stuart Dixon FRSA, who wrote the report said “The quantity of rubbish in the area sometime fluctuates, but it is everywhere. You see council workers turn up and remove some, occasionally, but they often leave behind more than they take. The area never looks completely clear. People need a more permanent and lasting solution that delivers a clean environment, even under the bushes.
The promise made about our green spaces and fly-tipping during the Labour Party Election campaign of 2019 should be upheld – but there is no sign yet”.
The area studied is highlighted in the google map below. It extends from the Public Walkway between St Margaret’s Crescent and Tymberwood Academy onto Doria Drive and towards Medhurst Crescent. The fouled paths are used by adults and school children at all times of day. Primarily they form a “cut through” between Thamesview school and Valley Drive for older children. The walkways around the school connect several dead end car parks to both entrances of the Tymberwood Academy on the northern boundary of the school. These are primarily used by the younger school children. The inbound and outbound footfall is a mixture of all age groups in places.
The walkway from Doria Drive to The gate at Tymberwood Academy deserves a special mention because it always contains various deposits of fly tipped waste and litter, which was partially cleared on 28th and 29th September.
We commence reporting at 9:40AM on 28th September, at the point where the walkway converges onto Doria Drive at the north western corner of the school grounds, where a half empty Council Waste Carrier, registration KM17 FOU was parked.
Tracking back along the only possible access route for this vehicle, photographs of fly – tipped waste were taken. See Appendix 1.
These pictures show many different sites in Doria Drive, mostly long-term dumps of household rubbish, but some containing a large percentage of rubble, a couple of tyres. We noticed this also in our last report. Rubbish was spread from the car park all the way from Medhurst Crescent. It is reasonable to assume the crew saw all of this as it drove past.
The sites were revisited by us between 3 and 3:45 PM that day, at which time none of the rubbish photographed had been cleared. Photographs were retaken at the end of the day. The vehicle returned to the same place at 0845 the following day. Nothing changed.
On both occasions the vehicle above parked with the passenger door open over a pile of litter. The crew engaged in litter clearance in the Walkway running south from this point. It is reasonable to assume the passenger crewman stepped onto this rubbish as he entered and exited the vehicle. Yet this litter was not included in the clearance.
Walkway between St Margaret’s Crescent and Tymberwood Academy
The surface rubbish from the parking point for approx. 100m back south west along the walkway had been picked by the end of the 28th. The vehicle returned on 29th.
Following this work Photo’s 8 to 10 were taken. They show views of the walkway on 5th October and highlight some of the remaining rubbish.
At the time of writing the current condition of this walkway is littered with ingrained dirt and litter, piled along the edges. It should be noted the path is wide enough to accommodate a motorised road sweeper.
Fly-Tipping Incidents between 28th Sept and 5th October
The route between Medhurst Crescent and the Car park was re-visited on 5th October. There was more rubbish, the bulk of which had been delivered during two fresh fly-tipping incidents over the weekend. See photo 10 and 11:
- Photo 10 below shows the Walkway blocked behind St Margarets’s Crescent – reported by a passer-by on Friday 2nd. October.
- Photo 11 shows a bulk dump of household rubbish in Cervia Way in the car park adjacent the rear gate to Tymberwood Academy occurring over the weekend.
The photographs presented here represent opportunities for the council to do, and be seen to do its job.
When the reality is viewed in the light of recent publicity broadcast via the councils FACEBOOK feed, the inequality of the situation comes to light.
This is a presentation showing the council doing its job and doing it well, especially in the area of waste disposal and street cleaning. While this may be the case in some areas, a short walk between the two areas South and North of Thamesview School and Tymberwood Academy show a different story.
Hands Off Policy
Photo 1 below shows approximately Half a tonne of Fly – Tipped Rubble dumped several months ago. We have seen and reported this at other sites. This implies that Gravesham Borough Council has a a selective or hands off policy relating to some fly-tipping sites and types of waste.
Please see photo’s 1 to 4 and note the distance between these sites is approximately 50m.
In the week commencing 7th September a fly-tipped mattress that had lain for several days with the contents of a scattered bin bag was located, mid-way between these locations. It was removed sometime in the week commencing 14th Sept. The fact is, it was there at the same time as the rubble in photo 1.
The service level agreement between the council and its customer, the voter is at fault. In breifly studying the system for reporting fly-tipping on Gravesham Borough website, the service level is quoted as “We will send someone out to look at it within 5 days”. No service level for disposing and cleaning up is mentioned, nor is the contract open to public scrutiny. This begs the question how does the council – the service provider, deliver value for money and compensate victims for poor service.
Mothers and children have been stepping through the mess left by the fly-tipper responsible for the dump at photo 10 for six days at the time this report was published.
Report compiled by S Dixon FRSA
|Photo 1 (above) approx a half tonne Rubble||Photo 2|
|Photo 3 – Rubble||Photo 4 – Rubble|
|Photo 5- Mis-approriated Salt Container filled to overflowing by 6th Oct||Photo 6 – Several Months old|
|Photo 7 – Tyre and Litter|
|Photo 8 – Rubble Deposit||Photo 9 Tyres hidden in bush|
|Photo 10||Photo 11|
Following on from our work on neighborhood relations we are happy to reproduce this story reported by the BBC today. It says that research into personality disorders tells us that as many as 1 in 20 people may have a personality disorder, gained as a result of family stress during pregnancy or in our early years.
We welcome the study, published in the British journal of psychiatry for the following reasons:
- Its supports our view that approaching neighbours with problems and issues is a risk to be avoided, because their response may be unpredictable.
- It is easy to assume that all neighbours have a desire to get on with each other. Some policies concerning neighbours, planning and policing for example make that assumption, and some warn against approaching neighbours.
- While there are many types of personality disorders, responsible for many types of common behaviour, some ( a “dark triad”) are characterised by dark personality traits.
- Blaming the victim when a toxic relationship materialises, “for not getting on with their neighbours” is common practice but simply not appropriate, and yet this attitude is prevalent among police officers and council workers, for example.
- Airing an issue, or indeed sharing information with a toxic neighbour can lead to crime, conflict and victimisation where support is minimal due to lack of understanding.
The victim in case three is an elderly man whose next door neighbour accused him thirty years ago, of interfering with her TV set. Relationships have never been good since this was resolved. He is well known in the community for his hobby, being a licensed radio amateur. His profile is quite high in the neighbourhood due to his garden antenna system. He gets on well with his other neighbours – most of whom support him.
Recently he has been the recipient of several types of unwanted behaviour as follows:
Type 1. False accusations of licence breaches delivered via secretive symbolic messages left on the doorstep of his home by an anonymous caller. The symbol used is that used by CB radio operators to accuse each other of causing problems by “improper” use of his radio, breaking the terms of his licence.
Editors Note: In common with other cases being compiled in support of Armando Martins, this feature implies the perpetrator has a need to torment the victim. It implies he is being observed breaking rules and the potential to involve the authorities. It is a veiled threat therefore. The same symbol has appeared several times in the last few years.
Type 2. More recently he received a malicious call about his hobby purporting to come from the authorities and telling him he would be in breach of the rules of his licence, if he didn’t act. This caused the victim to respond.
These incidents he thinks are pranks, however the frequency and numbers of incidents are building up and this is upsetting for him and his wife. Someone is “getting off” on causing them anxiety.
Type 3. The neighbour next door’s demeanour has never been good, but recently she has made a number of caustic remarks about him and his hobby containing threats to disrupt him by reporting him to the council. This attempt at coercive control was delivered over a number of incidents, one of which included complaints to his wife shouted through a communal wall, and accompanied by banging on the wall. This occurred while she was indoors enjoying TV and he was enjoying a session of radio operating in the shed.
When they eventually spoke, there was an allegation of TV Interference and the neighbour adopted a more threatening stance.
Despite his offers to resolve the situation, which mean accessing the neighbours TV to test it, she refuses and continues to threaten him saying she will have it stopped by the council. The victim takes the correct action and obtains a leaflet from the BBC and gives it to the neighbour. The neighbour insists she will do it her way.
NB. It is the BBC who have the technical resources to locate and prevent the interference. The council don’t have any (but do have enforcement officers).
She isn’t interested – she wants to invoke sanctions that close him down.
Anxiety levels are raised. Her attitude and demeanour imply if the victim doesn’t comply with her rules, he will face the “bureaucrats” at the council or some other judgement. As of today the victim awaits a call from the council and is in fear that they will act on her complaint rather than leave it to the proper authority. (A few weeks later there is a distinctly toxic atmosphere). While the victim said that he wasn’t losing any sleep it was clear now that he sees this as a threat to his livelihood. In his mind he is continually questioning the situation – racking his brains, looking for reasons why he is under attack, what the next steps may be and how to deal with it – fearing the worst.
In January 2019 the victim received a visit at night from two officers from Kent Police asking what was going on with his neighbour and for him to comment on her mental state. The purpose of the visit was vague although the victim links this with previous threats and false accusations.
NB. The behaviour of this neighbour bears a strong resemblance to that shown in Nightmare Neighbours Next Door Series 5 Episode 8. This has been screened multiple times on multiple channels of Freeview TV – ed.