Tag Archives: Environment

Two years to fix Brighton’s broken bins service, says new boss

From The Argus

Give it six more months and Brighton’s bin collection problem will start clearing up.

Overflowing rubbish bins in Hove.

That is the promise made by new Cityclean chief Rachel Chasseaud to long-suffering residents.

She says the main issues within Cityclean are poorly planned routes, uncompetitive salaries and a breakdown in communications, which has seen staff morale plummet.

High sickness day rates have also played a part in people’s bins not being collected regularly since late last year.

There is a long road ahead and Ms Chasseaud insists it will not be a straightforward task – and it will be about two years until the inadequate £10.3 million service is functioning the way it should be.

Ms Chasseaud’s plan is to restructure the routes for refuse collections so places that are being missed more frequently are targeted, though this is expected to take half a year.

In an interview with The Argus, she said: “It’s amazingly complex as to why there’s been problems. It’s something that’s happened over a period of time, not overnight.In six months people will see a big change.

“The round restructuring will take six months. There are some fantastic people at all levels within Cityclean. They want to be providing a really good service and they do really care that it isn’t working.”

Cityclean has about 90,000 refuse collections, 45,000 recycling rounds and 600 communal bins to clear, in total, per week.

As part of a “modernisation programme”, the service is due to undergo an overhaul, led by Ms Chasseaud, which will see a mapping system put in place to track collections.

This will make it easier to tackle areas where bins are not collected as regularly, Ms Chasseaud said.

Communication with staff has also been a big issue, with many frontline workers feeling their relationship with managers has been non-existent in recent times.

Ms Chasseaud, who started her £80,000-a-year job as assistant director on September 3, has been getting to know staff and rebuilding burnt bridges with them and the GMB union.

She described the service’s relationship with the union, which in August threatened to take strike action, as “complex” but said a good bond between them is crucial.

Ms Chasseaud said: “What I hope I’m already changing is relationships within the service. I’m spending a lot of time talking and listening to staff. That’s something I believe is very important.

“One thing I’ve noticed is staff morale has been very low. I think it’s because communications have broken down. People are feeling stretched. There have been cuts in the service, meaning a reduction in management to have conversations with staff.”

She is also working on improving communications with residents as soon as possible.

Speaking about GMB, she added: “A good relationship with the union is really important. I don’t think it’s the union that’s caused the problems. It’s not all management’s fault either – it’s historic. Sometimes certain actions start happening – strikes are one of them.I haven’t heard the union raise anything that I don’t agree with. The union knows we need to do round restructures too and more around health and safety.”

Another reason given for the poor service has been staff shortages.

A Brighton and Hove City Council report released last week revealed the £20,138 salary for drivers – significantly lower than £25,500 offered in East Sussex – is to be reviewed in a bid to retain workers.

The council is currently looking to recruit two additional drivers and four binmen.

Ms Chasseaud said: “One problem is recruiting drivers. There’s been a real change in the market and there’s a bigger demand and it’s driving up wages. At Gatwick, drivers can make more money. In other local authorities around Brighton and Hove wages are higher than in the city.”

High staff sickness has also been a contributing factor to the bins debacle which has seen some residents wait more than three weeks to have their rubbish collected.

A Freedom of Information request by The Argus revealed a total of 7,228 sick days were taken by Cityclean’s 275 members of staff, which includes office workers and managers as well as binmen, from January 2017 to August this year.

The council said the sickness rate is higher among Cityclean workers, and Ms Chasseaud is aiming to improve some health and safety aspects of the service, such as ensuring workers are wearing sufficient personal protection equipment.

She said the workforce is of a slightly older generation, too, increasing the risk of injuries on the job.

The council report, which is being presented to the environment, transport and sustainability committee today, highlighted staff sickness and stated workers will be offered free health checks.

Ms Chasseaud said: “When you’ve got a large number of people doing manual labour, you always expect some increased sickness. Another factor is staff morale. That has an impact. There’s been a good take-up on the health checks. I’m going to do a lot of work around wellbeing. We expect to see an improvement in sickness levels. There are no major health and safety issues.”

She has confidence in her own ability and has even received the backing of opposition councillors, with Conservative Dawn Barnett believing Ms Chasseaud is the right person for the job.

Her contract lasts a year, but she is hoping to impress and take it on permanently.

Ms Chasseaud said: “I would like to be part of a longer term strategy to really turn things around.”

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Reported Crime Statistics September 2017

Sussex Police have released reported crime statistics for September 2017, the latest figures available.

Click on the map for detailed information:

Here is a brief summary of the crime information for the past two months:

August 2017 September 2017
All crime 121 68
Anti-social behaviour 23 18
Bicycle theft 2 4
Burglary 1 2
Criminal damage and arson 5 3
Drugs 13 1
Other crime 3 0
Other theft 15 7
Possession of weapons 0 0
Public order 6 5
Robbery 0 0
Shoplifting 0 1
Theft from the person 13 0
Vehicle crime 9 7
Violence and sexual offences 31 20

Please visit https://www.police.uk/shape/AnxkDj/ for more information including outcomes for these crimes and contact information for your local policing team.

Tree replacement in Springfield Road

A group of SRRA members is embarking on a pilot project to replace trees in Springfield Road that have been lost or are in danger due to disease.

The Council Arborealist has identified five trees as needing replacement.

If successful the initiative could be extended to other streets in the area.

We will be raising funds in the near future so watch this space, if you would like to help please reply with your email address and we will be in touch.

Cityclean litter survey – Win £50!

From Cityclean

We want to hear your views on litter. Cityclean at Brighton & Hove City Council is starting a new campaign to reduce litter, working with the environmental charity Hubbub (www.hubbub.org.uk).

Please complete the 4 questions in this survey and you could win a £50 prize. Thank you.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BrightonHoveLitter

Tracy Phipps

Head of Business Support & Projects

Cityclean, Brighton & Hove City Council

Bins in the Southdown Rise area

Email sent to Leo Littman, Julie Cattell and Kevin Allen (our councillors)  –

Dear Leo

Thank you for offering to act as an intermediary to allow SRRA members to liaise with Damian Marmura on the question of the bins issue. Recently we had a follow-up meeting to discuss the various issues that came up at the AGM. Here is a summary of the points that arose.

  1. There is widespread concern about the proposal to introduce more wheelie bins for recycling. The pavements in this area are narrow, and are already severely cluttered. This presents a particular obstacle to wheelchair users and to people with buggies etc.
  2. Many of the existing green wheelie bins and black recycling boxes get left out on the pavement all week. This not only causes obstruction, and necessitates single file for those able to walk; it has also meant that approximately a third of the width of some pavements is unusable, inviting fly-tipping, and allowing weeds to grow and bushes to overhang. New wheelie bins will make a difficult situation impossible.
  3. Some of the houses in this area have little or no room to keep bins off the pavement; however, many do have room, but we believe the occupants simply aren’t aware of the rules. The existing green bins were delivered without notice or consultation, and in fact shortly after residents had been told that Springfield Road, at least, was not suitable for wheelie bins. It is true that letters have since been sent out by the council, explaining the rules, but as these were delivered in envelopes and addressed to “The Occupier”, it is doubtful whether many were even opened, let alone read.
  4. We have never had street signs such as the ones in nearby Shaftesbury Road, which inform residents of their collection day and explain that bins must be kept off the pavement on other days. We have a rising student population, and it appears that neither landlords nor the universities inform them of how they should use their bins.
  5. Neither SRRA nor individual residents have been consulted about the proposed new wheelie recycling bins. We understand these bins were “piloted” in areas such as Hangleton which are quite different, having bigger gardens, etc.
  6. It appears that Springfield Road, at least, no longer has a street cleaner. There have recently been several instances of rubbish being strewn across the pavement as a result of residents not placing it in secure containers to protect it from gulls, foxes and the wind. The result is that it simply gets left to blow around.

We would like to work with you and the Council to deal with these problems. They should surely be dealt with before there is any talk of new bins. Some possible remedies might include:

(a)     Street signs explaining the collection day and what to do with bins between collections. Some streets which already have these signs clearly don’t need them, so perhaps they could be transferred here at minimal cost?

(b)     A real effort to inform residents of the rules about bins and the problems caused to other residents and users of the pavement if they are left out. This would require, as a minimum, properly individually-addressed letters, and possibly also home visits in particularly troublesome areas. SRRA can assist with this.

(c)     Refuse collectors to be asked to return bins to the premises after emptying, and not to leave them on the pavement as at present.

(d)     Residents who have difficulty moving their bin to be offered help. SRRA can help with this.

(e)     Consideration given to the provision of communal bins instead of individual ones; such bins would have to be properly labelled to explain who they are for, and possibly lockable. Also more information given about existing nearby communal bins such as those in Preston Park.

(f)     The removal of unnecessary wheelie bins from residences which currently have too many. Also replacement of large bins with smaller standard ones, which take up less pavement width and are easier to move when full.

(g)     The abandonment of separate glass collections, which would obviate the need to retain one black box per residence, as we believe is proposed. Other parts of the country manage to deal with mixed recycling including glass; we do not see why these cannot be separated at the depot.

(h)     The reinstatement of street cleaners.

Perhaps we could meet with you and Damian in the near future to discuss this.

Best wishes

Jim Grozier

For SRRA committee

Electric bus trial to commence

From The Argus

Brighton and Hove Bus Company will begin trials with this electric bus.

Bosses have given the green light for a plan to pull the petrol and run their first trial of electric buses.

Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company has announced the emissions free vehicle will begin running along the city’s streets from this week.

It is the latest move designed to reduce air pollution in the city – which exceeds EU safe standards along major bus routes in Lewes Road and North Street as well as Rottingdean High Street.

The company is following in the footsteps of The Big Lemon company who are working to convert all their cooking oil fuelled vehicles into electric buses having received funding to create a solar powered recharging point at their depot.

Previously plans for electric buses had been on hold because of concerns over whether electric vehicles would be able to cope with the city’s steep hills.

Under the trial, a small single-deck electric bus known as a Streetair is being trialled this week on the number 50 bus route which runs between the University of Sussex and Brighton Railway Station.

The trial is designed to explore the right fuel options for the city in the short, medium and long term and will run on the city’s streets for a couple of months.

The electric bus, which has come from Northern Irish-based bus manufacturer Wrightbus, will be charged overnight and feature messages informing passengers and residents about the trial.

Passengers will also be able to pick up the environmentally friendly bus at Churchill Square, the Old Steine, Theatre Royal, Royal Pavilion, Jubilee Library, Brighton Museum, Brighton Pier and the Sea Life Centre.

Last year the company, which was founded in 1935, phased out all of its remaining 100 Euro 3 emission standard vehicles and has spent millions on the highest-standard Euro 6 buses while converting other vehicles to lower-emission technology.

Managing Director Martin Harris said: “We are excited to start this electric bus trial so we can see how the vehicle copes with the city’s topography and high passenger volumes.

“We foresee that ‘electric’ will form part of a multi-pronged strategy for a sustainable transport system for the future, and are currently exploring a number of fuel options for the short, medium and long term.”