It seems that two local websites have been gleefully jumping on some old statistics about street cleaning in Ealing. They look bad because they are two years old and reflect Ealing how it was – which is why the Tories were elected in May 2006.
This posting is stupidly long but stick with it if you are interested in the way that truth gets mangled by laziness. David Highton at West Ealing Neighbours published a piece on Monday titled “EALING ONE OF WORST BOROUGHS FOR STREET LITTERING”. His opening line is:
According to a new report from the Council for the Protection of Rural England the borough of Ealing is one of the worst in the country for people dropping litter in the streets.
Although he goes on to repeat a few lines from the report his intent is clear. He wants to communicate the message that Ealing is bad at keeping its streets clean.
On Sunday March 15th the Acton W3 site had a piece titled “Low Down and Dirty” and sub-titled “Local authorities come bottom of the heap with dealing with street litter”. Their opening line is:
Both Ealing and Hounslow boroughs are considered to be amongst the dirtiest in Britain according to a report published by Campaign to Protect Rural England. Hounslow is ranked fourth filthiest whilst Ealing fare slightly better ranking seventh out of the worst offenders.
They do though have the good grace to include a comment from Ealing council:
Ealing Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Services, Councillor Sue Emment, said: “Unfortunately the Campaign to Protect Rural England has published a report using figures which are now two years out of date. Since then we have made massive improvements and last year’s league table showed our streets were the cleanest of any west London borough.
In fact at the last independent inspection, in January 2009, auditors found 94 per cent of streets were free from litter, which is the cleanest they’ve ever been.
Of course very few people read that far past the headline and initial paragraph so this is small consolation.
I guess WEN just lifted their story from Acton W3 without doing any of their own research. It fitted in with their rather down on Ealing point of view. Similarly with Acton W3 – local media very rarely think there is much mileage in good news from the council – could that be why Ealing keeps Around Ealing?
Where did this story come from? It comes from a report by the Council for the Protection of Rural England launched on 9th March, last Monday, see press release. No mention of Ealing in the press release. No mention of Ealing in text of the report. In fact the report has nothing to do with Ealing specifically. Ealing merely appears once in a table of two year old BVPI data from the Audit Commission, see here for the original source material. They are talking about the BV 199a score which relates to litter. Look for Waste & Cleanliness tab.
Ealing does indeed fare badly, ranked 7th worst in the whole country. Oh no! But wait a minute ALL of the worst 10 are London Boroughs. What a surprise London has more litter than the country!
This is entirely to be expected. We all knew that Ealing was dirty when the Tories took over in May 2006. That is why people voted for us. The new Conservative administration only took over part way into the year that relates to CPRE’s table and it took us some months to sort out the last administration’s contract and invest more in the service. If you look at the data one year on (the latest data available), here, reproduced in part below, you will see that in one year we had moved from a score of 34.8 and a ranking of 7th worst to a score of 21.1 and a ranking of 26th worst, better than 14 other London boroughs.
Both local pieces highlight the case of Kensington and Chelsea as does the original report. It says:
From these rankings it is clear that the majority of well-performing councils are located in rural areas, while the worst are mainly urban. Nevertheless, success is not confined to the countryside; the densely populated London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea still makes the top 10.
K&C is not a very useful guide for anything. It is not only the richest area in England and Wales, see here (note this is not the most recent data but the easiest to understand at a glance), but also the second smallest area in England, see this list.
The CPRE were lazy to use 2006/7 data when the 2007/8 was available and their comments about K&C are ill informed. The local websites are more than just lazy. They want to tell a story and don’t care if the facts fit.