Labour's answer to dirty streets: £2m more on management

At the Cabinet Committee meeting on 16th December the Labour Cabinet Members present decided to spend another £2m on propping up the ailing ‘Cleansweep’ system which Greenwich uses to sweep the streets.

The extra £2m is in addition to the £750,000 which was allocated to help ‘Cleansweep’ in the spring budget agreement and which Councillors were told was needed “to improve the quality of the operation”.

The report to the Cabinet Committee reported vast improvements in the service from over a third of roads below acceptable standards for litter and detritus in 2006/07 to one fifth of all roads in 2007/08. However, there is no evidence that the extra £750,000 has improved the situation as the number of dirty streets rose from 17% to 19% between February and the current report.

The report requesting an extra £2m be allocated contains an admission that ‘Cleansweep’ is not doing the job and poor supervision is part of the problem. The report states quite clearly that the low level of current supervision means “there’s a potential for schedules to be missed and for quality of work to decline.” The report goes on to suggest that the extra managers will be able to check all the work to be done on a given day has been completed and “take appropriate corrective action” if the streets remain dirty.

Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Spencer Drury commented “Labour’s decision to allocate another £2m to this service reflects their inability to control Council spending or even properly plan for a year ahead. In February we were told that three quarters of a million would sort ‘Cleansweep’ out, but now it appears that this was a fantasy. We know that the new bins system has increased the demands on the street cleaners as they have to remove the mess left when foxes rip open the rubbish bags, but the Council ignored our suggestions. In Eltham North more residents are complaining that not enough is being done to clear up the mess the foxes leave and there have been complaints of rats in some streets. Personally I think employing additional street sweepers is more likely to produce cleaner streets rather than extra managers.”

“Labour’s system needs a complete overhaul – one-fifth of our streets are a mess and Labour boast of this as an achievement. It is typical of Labour at the moment to throw more money at the problem but not get the results required.”