"IT'S JUST PLUMSTEAD, MATE, INNIT?"

MARCH 15th 2016
Last year I had a walkabout with some Royal Greenwich Council officers and members in order to address extreme problems of litter around Pettman Crescent and along Plumstead Road.

Today I revisited the area with the PCEG's Community Work Placement volunteers, because it has been evident for some time that the problems there are a long way from being solved.

The photo above is of the area behind the bus stop near the bus garage where buses change drivers. I spoke to three drivers waiting there and asked them if they thought some drivers might be responsible.

"No," replied one of them, "It's just Plumstead, mate, innit?"
Just east of that bus stop is a sloping path down to the pedestrian underpass. Behind that wall is another appalling sight.
The central reservation of Plumstead Road remains just as bad as it was when I decided to take the problem up with the council last year.
After a thorough Risk Assessment briefing today, I took my CWP volunteers down there. The reservation is so wide in places that they felt in no danger at all as long as they didn't step into the carriageway.

We decided to concentrate on the areas shown above. The amount of litter was absolutely shocking. One of the volunteers said, "You just have to find a clear bit to put your foot and then just pick around you."

I was told last year that the council cannot pick the central reservation clean because it is too dangerous. I told councilors and officers then that my wife and I had proved to our satisfaction that it is not dangerous at all and had spent some hours clearing litter.

Today, the volunteers spent two and a half hours at the site.
This is what we collected. Thirty nine bags of litter together with a length of carpet and two large boxes.
A significant amount of litter from here, and from around Pettman Crescent, came from the McDonalds restaurant.

The manager of McDonalds assured me that he and his staff are working in cooperation with the council and are in dialogue with them. He told me that the area around Pettman Crescent was entirely clean a week ago. I frankly found that hard to believe, as I have been monitoring the area continually since our walkabout. One of my volunteers was very angry about the terrible amount of litter we had encountered - especially from McDonalds around Pettman Crescent itself - and the apparent lack of action.

Whether the manager is mistaken regarding the cleanliness of the area a week ago, or not, the situation now is clearly unacceptable. I tried to explain my point of view - that litter creates litter. All the time McDonalds customers see the volume of litter around the area they are more likely to believe that the refuse from their own purchases will make little difference.

This is McDonalds official policy statement:

McDonald's restaurants are very much a part of the local communities in which they operate and restaurant staff and our franchisees take pride in the appearance of the local environment. We tackle litter in as many different ways as we can. As well as daily litter patrols, we also hold regular local clean-up events together with the national Tidy charities.

I would like to urge the management of this McDonalds restaurant to look more directly at how they could apply that policy to solving the extreme problems in this area.
The area around the bus garage at Pettman Crescent was particularly disgusting. It was a huge disappointment to see the state of it considering council reperesnenatives and a representative from Peabody (the freeholder) had, last year, promised action to sort the problem,
The litter around the steps up to Pettman Crescent was just as bad as it was last year, and it looks as if nothing has been done there.

There was some confusion last year as to whose responsibility this is. It is clear that confusion has still not been resolved.
Royal Greenwich Council have severely constrained resources, but perhaps need to consider if those resources can be more effectively deployed. One street sweeper told us he never litter picks in the bushes beside the road crossing across the central reservation because nobody told him to.

There are many places in Royal Greenwich that, under current H&S thinking, cannot be properly cared for. In my view, the council needs to consider how open spaces with compromised access can be effectively addressed.


Then, of course, the council needs to urgently develop strategies that will drastically cut the appalling quanity of litter being dropped in the first place.

There is an increasing number of us here that will not accept that this is "just Plumstead, innit".
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