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Capital Standards and the Street Academy

The Capital Standard is an initiative by 26 London Boroughs, the ALG and the Mayor’s office to tackle street environmental problems across London as a whole. The StrEET Academy is fundamental to that initiative.

What is the problem?
The recent MORI poll ‘The Rising Prominence of Liveability’ demonstrated that
  1. Public satisfaction with street cleansing is falling.
  2. There is a correlation between the public’s satisfaction with street cleansing and their satisfaction with the local authority’s overall performance.
  3. That local authorities are working harder to clear the rising tide of litter and dumped rubbish alongside this fall in satisfaction.

So Local Authorities and their cleansing departments are in the position that they are working harder to remove litter and waste but at the same time are considered by the public to be failing.

What is the source of the problem?
The sources of litter and dumped waste are complex but can broadly be grouped into
  1. Individual actions by some members of the public who drop litter, fast food wrappers, do not clean up after their dogs, flytip their household waste etc
  2. Businesses that dump their waste rather than make a Trade Waste Agreement. Builders and others who collect small amounts of waste and flytip rather than use a waste transfer station. These are commercial decisions where a person in business decides to reduce their waste disposal costs.
  3. Larger scale activity where people are in the illegitimate business of collecting waste, often from law abiding businesses and householders, and then intentionally flytipping on public or private land.  

What can be done about it?
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) contains remedies to this problem. Currently the enforcement role is split between the Environment Agency and Local Authorities. All of the London Boroughs in the Capital Standard carry out some enforcement.

However in order for public satisfaction with cleansing to increase, and the consequent overall satisfaction with their Local Authority’s performance, the rising volume of litter and dumped waste must be reversed. If this was to happen and the current level of cleansing effort maintained then the resulting improvement should be self-evident.

Where does the StrEET Academy fit into this?
Despite the effort put in by those working in enforcement and their individual effectiveness the overall results fall short of what is needed. However as they or their authority are often working in isolation these individual efforts count for less in a London wide context. Flytippers and members of the public do not recognise the administrative boundaries of the London Boroughs.

The Street Academy aims to address these issues in the following ways

  1. To ensure that all candidates are aware of the scale and origins of the problem
  2. To ensure that all candidates are aware of all the relevant sections of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA)
  3. To ensure that all candidates are aware of any current case law and interpretations of the EPA and all recent and proposed changes to the EPA
  4. To issue all candidates with a comprehensive reference manual, an abridged on-street manual and circulate updates as they become available.
  5. To obtain from candidates and their authorities examples of best practice, letters, notices and strategies that work and disseminate this information to all those involved in the StrEET Academy.
  6. Trying to ensure that each course comprises individuals from different authorities so that the opportunities for networking are increased.  All of the candidates email addresses are circulated to the other candidates after the course so they can keep in contact.
  7. Networking with officers from other authorities is fundamental to the StrEET Academy examples of the benefits gained from such networking are
    1. Shadowing someone from another authority carrying out a duty that you have not previously done, such as issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice
    2. Cross boundary co-operation for common problems
    3. Learning from another authority’s experience in carrying out a procedure such as Street Litter Notices. (not having to re-invent the wheel)
  8. To understand that enforcement can be education as well as prosecution. Asking people to comply with the law, obtaining and recording their agreement is effective enforcement.

The overall objective is to obtain a measurable improvement in the cleanliness of London as a whole by getting the current enforcement officers to work in a co-ordinated and effective manner, i.e. work smarter not harder.

For more information email info (at) parkhearne (dot) com

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