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Ealing and Northfield

Lies, Damned lies and …

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said: “Unfortunately the Campaign to Protect Rural England has published a report using figures which are now two years out of date.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.

CPRE's out-of-date table

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.

2007/8 figures

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.

8 replies on “Lies, Damned lies and …”

You have been magnificently active this week. Keep blogging.

Please note the Tories got in on the back of the tram. That Phil, is the word in the street.

Yes Ealing generally is much cleaner. I wonder now how much further the Council wants to go on spending on this strategy. What I really want is for some clever Council lawyer to work out how to deal with the difficult areas where there is a lot of litter. Take Trumpers Way for example. Nice clean stroll along the canal. Disgusting walk back into Northfields. As Trumpers is in your parliamentary (not ward) constituency, do you fancy making a comment?

I can’t be bothered to check your statistics as gardening is more important, and anyway judging by your passion for once you may have some right on your side. I would be interested to know what Eric has to say.

But readers well know I have caught you out enough times on statistics.

By the way, how many readers do you average each month?

George,

Stuck at home this week with a baby with chicken pox. Not that ill but banned from nursery. Hence time for blogging during naps.

The Tram was an issue near the Uxbridge Road and in areas that would have been affected by diversions but away from there it was much less so. It was really only the third or fourth issue in Northfield.

Sorry to hear that Trumpers Way is not good. A few calls to 020 8825 6000 will start to get it on the Council’s radar. I will have a look at it when I am next in the area.

I don’t quite see how you have caught me out but whatever makes you happy George.

Over the last year Google Analytics reports 37,986 unique visitors. You count as 1. There were 57,517 visits.

Thanks and hope the baby recovers quickly. You must be getting a sun tan.

Trumpers is a problem mainly on private land which is why clever lawyers might think of a good ruse.

A, temporary please, roving camera might catch some dumpers.

Anyway glad you will have a look sometime.

More generally though, now that Ealing is getting cleaner, it is the places likeTrumpers which start to notice more. If it is long term uncontrollable, a new bye law threat would sharpen the minds of filthy landowners.

Now please don’t tell me that Ealing can’t lead the way due to bureaucracy. You are a Tory!!!!

Hmmm! Not how I understand my story Phil. The point of the story is to raise the problem of people littering our streets – which means it’s us residents and people who come to Ealing to work, shop and whatever. I happen to think our streets are much cleaner now but that’s an entirely different point to the fact that people litter our streets. Every morning I see drinks cans, bottles, fast food litter and cigarette packets on our streets. Yes, of course, it gets cleaned up and very well too, but why is it there in the first place? That’s where the problem lies. The Council obviously has to clear up whatever amount of rubbish people drop. But why does so much get dropped? Hence, the need for a range of ways to tackle it which include education and deterring people by keeping our main shoppping centre streets as clean as possible. That’s not having a go at the Council, that’s trying to highlight a problem which we all need to help tackle.

David,

You are being a bit disingenuous I think. Both your headline and standfirst included the words “Ealing” and “worst”.

I am pleased that you say: “I happen to think our streets are much cleaner now”. I think that this is the generally held perception that I hear most Saturday mornings on the doorstep.

The report had some interesting things to say about people’s attitude to the state of a place and how that affected their willingness to litter. In other words if the council gets the place clean it is more likely to stay clean. The old regime allowed too many places to be dirty, too often. So, you are right to say that litter is caused by people being lazy and anti-social but the first step to fixing it getting the place clean. Once that is achieved in large part, as I think most people agree it has been in Ealing, we have to redouble our work on enforcement. Enforcement was talked about extensively in the paper and focussing on young men and groups is key.

I think we will hear much more about Fixed Penalty Notices for littering in the coming years.

David Highton has I suspect never been disingenuous in his whole life.

If the Council continues to spend our money in trumpeting success and electioneering about cleaner streets it can expect some flack when citizens actually see dirty streets and third parties carry out street research the results of which the Council doesn’t like.

Holiday resorts boast lots of fast food outlets and confectionery shops – so why don’t the likes of Bournemouth, Brighton, Skegness, Great Yarmouth, Margate, Bridlington, Weymouth, Eastbourne, Torquay and Worthing feature in the lists of towns with the dirtiest streets?

As for WEN being ‘down on Ealing’ – this is plainly not the case. WEN, no doubt like you, wants to improve the qualtiy of life for those who live, work and visit West Ealing.

Your 600 word post Phil shows that you are more than a little concerned about this. However don’t try and shoot the messengers.

Eric,

The current administration really cares about cleanliness hence the sensitivity. “Cleaner streets” is the first of our three top priorities and our leader has made cleaner streets central by personally doing his own reality checks. David had the good grace to acknowledge that “our streets are much cleaner now” which I am sure we all appreciate.

Your line about coastal resorts ignores the fact that Suffolk Coastal District Council has about half its land area covered by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and includes the famous seaside town of Aldeburgh and scored worse than Ealing last year. The resort of Blackpool scored worse than us last year also.

I come from the south coast so places like Bournemouth (12.0), Brighton (13.7) and Worthing (13.5) don’t score that well compared to Ealing’s 21.1 in my view. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ealing catching up or surpassing these towns in the next set of figures.

Sometimes WEN and you in particular give the impression that Ealing Council is part of the problem rather than part of the solution in West Ealing. When I survey West Ealing I see a well kept up public realm and positive plans from the council to improve it.

I’m not going to write 600 words, but would like to comment on WEN and it’s “owner” David Highton. WHAT A CRAP WEB SITE!! AND WHAT SLIPPERY TWO FACED SNAKE DAVID IS!

That’s it.

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