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|