With more and more people living in the Capital the problems of rubbish seem to be on the increase. Piles of rubbish as in the photo(s) are becoming all too common and I wonder if Westminster Council needs to approach the problem differently if we want to avoid such piles in future.
It is a shame that most areas seem to be improving - new buildings are very much part of the urban landscape as well as renovations of the older ones.This very much the case in Marylebone where things have been changing for a number of years now. With the rise in the value of property, particularly residential property, and its convenient central location, Marylebone is attractive to many visitors and people coming to work in London.
Whereas Westminster has always had a large transient population there has undoubtedly been a considerable rise in the number of short term lets in and around our area since landlords can make so much more from their properties if they can rent them almost like hotel space rather than on long term leases. Although technically they need a permit from Westminster Council to do this very few bother to apply. As a result we are living with more rubbish on our streets.
How can this be avoided?
One cannot complain about the seriousness with which Westminster Council has always taken rubbish. We have an army of street sweepers who patrol our streets picking up stray rubbish all day. Indeed the area where I live is particularly well served in this respect by Alvin our friendly and hard working sweeper, who with the presence of the Roma on our streets does much more than should be expected of him. We also have an excellent Warden in John Moorhead who diligently patrols the Bryanston and Dorset Sq area keeping a watchful eye on our environment, including the lighting and pavements. However whereas before, if rubbish was put out at the wrong time, John was able to go through it and find evidence of which address it had come from and then issue a warning. If rubbish of this sort persisted it resulted in a fine. But these days the offenders will be long gone probably even before a warning is issued so the system has broken down as any deterrent has been lost. People like me could take the trouble to report the rubbish but all that happens is that a lorry comes round to pick it up and nothing happens to the people littering our streets - in fact they are even encouraged to put out more rubbish because it is picked up for them!
Westminster Council needs to reconsider the whole system.
Either they need to extend daily collections to certain residential areas where the rubbish is accumulating in an unacceptable fashion or they need to restore the deterrent somehow. There seems to be a marked difference between the behaviour of owner occupiers and people who rent. The former tend to respect the collection times far more than the latter. Westminster Council is still in the process of cutting services rather than expanding them so they are unlikely to extend daily collections to keep our streets clean. Would it be possible to fine the landlords if their tenants do not respect the collection times? There are no doubt problems here, such as having to prove that the rubbish is in fact coming from that particular property, but if there is photographic evidence that the piles are regularly outside one property that should suffice. Landlords would then take much more trouble to tell their tenants to put out their rubbish on the appropriate day for collection.
This may not be the right solution but WCC needs to give further thought to finding a solution. The projections for the numbers of people living in the Capital are all on the increase so the problem is only going to get worse not better and rubbish is not only unsightly it is also very unhygienic. As the buildings get better it seems a shame that the litter in the streets just gets worse and spoils the elegant environment of Marylebone.
Chair of the Harrowby and District Residents' Association and Marylebone Association Committee Member