Monday, 10 August 2009

Veolia fly-tipping in Camden

I read a well interesting piece on Schneier the other day, it changed the way I think about risks, security and rules
...yet another conference presenter complaining about security awareness training. He was talking about the difficulty of getting employees at his company to actually follow his security policies: encrypting data on memory sticks, not sharing passwords, not logging in from untrusted wireless networks. "We have to make people understand the risks," he said.

It seems to me that his co-workers understand the risks better than he does. They know what the real risks are at work, and that they all revolve around not getting the job done. Those risks are real and tangible, and employees feel them all the time. The risks of not following security procedures are much less real. Maybe the employee will get caught, but probably not. And even if he does get caught, the penalties aren't serious.

Anyhoo, last night we made elderberry and blackberry tart, here's a photie. It was yummy, even more so as we'd picked the berries ourselves bushes along the wee alley at the bottom of my road, by the West Hampstead Thameslink tracks, here on google maps.

I was somewhat surprised this afternoon to find that all the bushes and trees had been trimmed and cut back. This is kind of a good thing, its nice to think that our council tax goes to pay for tidying up overgrown alleys. Crikey, the number of times I've had to duck to get by overhanging branches, and then been terrified by suspended spiders.

The other week I went along to a meeting of the Camden Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations, they were quite annoyed that the council caretaking services had been out-sourced as part of a cost saving exercise. I'm all for cost-saving myself, it sounds like a good idea, but this particular cost saving saved about £19,000 at the same time as the council recruited a couple of new assistant directors on £100,000+ salaries. And also, when the private company the outsourcing went to was conducting a pilot scheme to check their standards, they were found to be crap, so the council changed the specification to allow them to get the contract. It all seems a little dodgy to me.

Veolia are the mob who got the contract to provide a lower standard of cleaning services to council tenants.

On my way to the bank today I saw three different Veolia chaps pushing their trolleys around the street, sweeping just a little. I saw them in Maidenhead last week, and furthermore, I saw them down the far end of the Thameslink alley last week, starting to cut back the overhanging bushes.

Here's a rather relevant photie of the alley, and what's that sign attached to the lamppost? Lets take a closer look.

Hmm, now I wouldn't dream of doing anything that could land me a £20,000 fine. I'm thousands of pounds in debt already. But I guess if you're a big company with a caretaking contract, and you have the choice of carrying all the cut bits of bush and tree down the alley to a van you've hired, and then taking it to some kind of proper composty waste dump, or you could just sling it over a fence and no one will find out, you weigh up the risks and take whichever option seems most cost-effective.

So, of course all the cutting have been slung over the fence next to the railway lines, heaps and heaps of it, every last bit. Absolutely none has been taken away to be properly disposed of.

This isn't quite the cost-saving I expect from the council. I expect cost-savings without breaking any laws, that's just my natural 'rule of law' inate philosophy of life. Maybe Veolia don't have the same philosophy, therefore they need the risk of being prosecuted for fly-tipping to be more of a real risk, to cost them money, and not just a cost they can pass on to the council.

It doesn't even make sense, according to the Veolia website they have several composting sites for disposal of green garden waste, yet instead of taking it there, they just chucked it over the fence. That's just laziness, thats not what we paid for, that's taking the piss. Veolia are full of shit.

Veolia fly-tipping in West Hampstead

Veolia fly-tipping in West Hampstead

Back when I was doing volunteering on Hampstead Heath for Heath Hands, we used to make dead-wood fences out of cutoff bits of trees and bushes, the rangers told us where to lay, but this is not a dead wood fence, this is clearly fly-tipping, chucking stuff over the fence cos they can't be bothered taking it to a van for composting.

Veolia fly-tipping in West Hampstead

Here's the bit on the Network Rail webpage about how they work with British Transport Police to find and prosecute fly-tippers.

Wouldn't it be cool if they got fined £20,000 for fly-tipping.


  1. The problem with exposing it like this, though, is that all that will happen, if anything, is that the poor sod responsible for that particular bit of alley will get sacked from his minimum wage job and Veolia will carry on otherwise unaffected.

  2. I believe the law states that if your neighbour's trees or bushes overhang your property you are entitled to cut them back to the boundary but you must return the cuttings to your neighbour as they are still his/her property.

    I can only assume this is what is happening here - the bushes are on Network Rail property, the path is council owned. Therefore the council (or its contractors) must return the overhanging brushwood to the property from which it came. If they didn't they could be charged with theft.

  3. Drat, it sounds like a mighty battle between resisting the urge to fly-tip and to not steal thy neighbour's overhanging bits.