Gazette letters: Recycling bins, air quality and fly-tipping


- Credit: Tracy Hester

I would like to ask what Islington Council is playing at with our recycling bins, writes Tracy Hester, Ringmer Gardens, Islington.

They came along a few months ago and built a large shed for the bins to sit in. This was quite nice as it took away the unsightly mess left beside the bins.

Now they have put letterbox-type holes in them which are nearly impossible to access and are also too high for you to see what you are doing or for children to access.

If, like me, you put recycling into a bag then take it to the bins, you will know that you now have to empty your bag of each individual item to post into the letter box. It was so much easier before to turn my bag upside down into the bin.

I have always actively encouraged recycling to my children but now they refuse to empty it and quite honestly I don’t blame them.

I wish they would the bins more accessible before we all lose interest in recycling.

Claudia Webbe is right to refer to the introduction of 20mph speed-limits on the borough’s local roads as a “pioneering, innovative” policy now copied by local authorities across the country (“What we’re doing about pollution”, March 23), writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

Let’s remember, however, this was an initiative of then Green Party councillor Katie Dawson, introduced as a road safety, not an air pollution, initiative.

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Recent research has shown 20mph can improve urban air quality through a reduction in brake, tyre and road “wear particles”. This health-damaging non-exhaust pollution is halved when stopping at 20mph as opposed to 30mph.

More charging-points for electric vehicles, as proposed by Cllr Webbe, will do nothing to cut this “ambient” air-pollution, which produces fine particulate matter (PM10/PM2.5) more damaging to human health than the nitrogen dioxide produced by diesel vehicles. Electric vehicles need tyres. Reducing diesel has become the easy win – but a pioneering council would see beyond this, using the most up-to-date research to guide its public health policies.

The way to improve air quality is to reduce the traffic on our roads. Two steps the executive member for environment and transport should take immediately towards this end, if she’s serious, are:

1) Introducing car-free zones around all the borough’s schools, ending the dangerous, air-polluting, obesogenic and congestion-inducing school run. Pollution can be worse inside a vehicle than out, as filthy air is sucked in through a vehicle’s vents. The head of St Mary Magdelene Academy has already indicated her willingness to be part of a borough-wide scheme to tackle the issue.

2) Closing Gillespie Road to through traffic, a measure for

which there is considerable residential support. The council’s response? To follow in Boris Johnson’s footsteps and “smooth the flow” of traffic by removing parking at certain points.

Car ownership is a minority sport in Islington – only 31 per cent of households have access to one. It’s time the council put the majority of its residents, and their health, first.

Islington residents are growing increasingly frustrated at the deteriorating problem of fly-tipping, writes Nathan Hill, Islington Lib Dems (full address supplied).

The council’s own figures highlight how bad it’s become, with 12,205 complaints about fly-tipping over the last four years, and that doesn’t include littering and missed waste collections, which see it nearly double.

Fly-tipping in Islington has increased year on year: 2,231 (2012/2013); 2,634 (2013/2014); 3,166 (2014/2015), 4,174 (2015/2016). The extraordinarily high cost of large waste collection imposed by the council last year does nothing but incentivise people to dump their waste illegally; Islington has one of the worst value for money large waste collection schemes in London.

The fly-tipping figures reinforce local views that dumped rubbish is a big problem in St Mary’s ward, on the doorstep of the town hall, with Essex Road and Upper Street continually cited as key hotspots for fly tipping and dumped rubbish.

The increase in fly-tipping is symptomatic of a wider decline in the council’s waste collection services. Residents across the borough have been telling us on doorsteps and social media street cleaning and waste collection services have got worse ever since it was brought back in-house by the council. Residents have repeatedly raised concerns about the issue and have been pushing the council to take urgent action.

The areas with the highest number of missed collection complaints were in Highbury, which has been in the top three wards for complaints for the last three years.

A recent investigation found Islington Council had generated £145k from bin fines: 912 in 2014/2015, 908 in 2013/2014 and 851 in 2012/2013.

This shows the council’s propensity for fining residents doesn’t seem to be helping to solve the problem.

Residents just see this just as another way to make money out of them as the problem goes from bad to worse.

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