We all know of a spot we walk past locally which is a favoured rubbish dumping spot.
There's one at the bottom of the road on which I live - the dumps are rarely that big, but they’re persistent. Usually, I'll spend less then a minute to snap a picture with the Haringey report-it app and zap off a report.
Some people question the wisdom of this. 'Doing that', they say, 'just encourages people to dump. If they know it will be collected they'll dump again'.
I can't say that I disagree with their logic. My actions may well have that effect. But, on the other hand it's also probably true that many of the people who do dump, don't give their actions a second thought. They just want to be rid of their mess and make it someone else's problem. If their dumped rubbish wasn't cleared and instead it piled up, I'm sure they'd just tut and mutter about how useless the Council is. Most wouldn't amend their behaviour.
The Broken Windows theory also holds true - uncleared rubbish attracts more rubbish.
So, on balance, I decide to carry on reporting. However, I can't help thinking that there must be a better way to focus on trouble spots.
I asked the Council how many times they've been called to collect rubbish at the bottom of my road over the past couple of years. I got their answer this week and it turns out it's somewhere between every day and every other day, 21 times a month on average.
Given the degree to which Council decisions are driven by financial considerations these days, my thoughts had been running along the lines of working out the cost of collecting all this rubbish and whether some sort of deterrence measure would work out cheaper.
However, on the issue of cost the email said "The cost of collecting dumped rubbish in the borough is included as part of the overall core contract cost. There is no separate payment to Veolia for collection of this type of dumped rubbish".
That gave me pause for thought. The implication of this answer is that, as things stand now, the Council has no financial interest in deterring dumping. It's good that responding to dumped rubbish reports are part of the contract with Veolia, but in contracting out dealing with the problem, I can't help feeling the Council has divested itself of a good part of its interest in solving it.
Now it's Veolia who have the over-riding interest in dealing with the issue and they're only likely to consider it in the context of the lifetime of the current contract. Would they therefore be interested in deterrence measures? Maybe....if the sums were right.....maybe....
What might deterrence look like? I guess the first option would be designing out the attractiveness of a place for dumping. An alternative has to be some sort of punitive regime. We know that bad behaviour like driving in bus lanes is very well controlled by fines and whilst it's true that people don't wear licence plates, I wonder if this might also work for dumping.
Answers on a postcard.........
We have something similar on the corner of our road. At the moment some thoughtful soul has dumped a couch, which has attracted beer bottles, a gift from the local street drinkers, most of which end up smashed into shards of broken glass. The same spot also attracts bin liners that are torn open by hungry foxes and the contents strewn across the pavement. It’s delightful.
Sympathies Sam. I can just imagine the sight and it will be even worse (smelly) with some hot weather this weekend.