Local residents unhappy with council’s proposal to cut litter collection in parks

Litter Bin at Clissold Park, Hackney. Pic: GilPe

Residents have expressed concern at proposals to cut litter collection in 58 of Hackney’s parks because of the borough’s financial crisis.

This measure was proposed by Hackney Council as one measure to help bridge the £57 million budget deficit. According to a savings document, the proposal to reduce litter collection is forecasted to save Hackney council about £70,000 in 2024/25, though the exact figure is yet to be confirmed by the council.

Hackney’s Mayor, Caroline Woodley said in a statement to Eastlondonlines: “Like all Councils we are facing severe financial challenges as a result of rising costs and reductions in central government funding, including a budget shortfall of over £50m over the next three years. In this context, it is only responsible that we consider savings options that help us protect our frontline services, such as providing essential care for older people and homes for families hit hardest by Hackney’s housing crisis.”

She that though the evening litter collection would be reduced during the summer, the daily morning litter collections would continue, and there would be no changes to bedding planting until after summer.

However, Kevin Flemen, the London Fields Users Group chairman told Eastlondonlines that they were blindsided by the council about the proposed reduction of litter collection: “It would be helpful…if the council engaged with park user groups to discuss the impact of such cuts rather than user groups learning about it second hand. It devalues the role of user groups and gives the impression that their views don’t matter.”

Flemen alleged that the council had been “naughty” in failing to be transparent in their promises that they would pay the cost for additional bins needed for litter collection after they extended the Broadway Market trading day from Saturdays to include Sundays. This meant that the additional cost for litter collection was coming out of the parks’ budget rather than the council’s.

He told Eastlondonlines: “…[T]he Markets Department recognised that this [the extra market day] would create more litter in the park and said in writing that they would cover this cost. Despite subsequently expanding the market they did not stand by this undertaking and all the park pick up is covered from the park budget…every time the market gets bigger, it creates more litter.”

Flemen had previously said that the extra bins put out by the council for all the litter were often not enough, calling the littering problems in the parks: “especially bad…the council isn’t managing litter brilliantly, and [the thought of] it getting worse fills me with horror… .”

Hackney has won 29 Green Flag awards – the international standard for the best maintained parks in the UK.

Woodley says that they will continue working to maintain Hackney’s reputation for well-maintained parks: “We’re spending £16m managing and maintaining Hackney’s parks and leisure centres over the next three years, including £1.7m on continuing to upgrade park play areas. Hackney has some of London’s best maintained parks and we’re committed to these standards because we know how important green spaces are for people’s wellbeing.”

The council told Eastlondonlines that stopping seasonal bedding planting was a commitment in the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy that had been adopted in 2021.

If the proposals were approved: “seasonal bedding planting would be replaced with perennial plants, which are better for the environment.” Such perennial plants like wildflower meadows are also already being planted by The London Fields User Group volunteers.

Flemen said: “It is deeply wrong that the burden of clearing up the commercial sector falls on volunteers and the Parks Department and the expansion of the former while reducing the latter is a recipe for disaster.”

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