‘Disgusting’: fly-tipping and litter plague Roehampton estates

Fly-tipping plagues Roehampton social housing estates despite official statistics showing Wandsworth to be London’s second cleanest inner borough, residents and a local councillor claim.

Councillor Claire Gilbert of Roehampton and Putney Heath ward said the relatively low number of reported fly-tips does not line up with what residents are telling her.

Gilbert said common complaints extend beyond fly-tipping to include overflowing bins, damaged bins, and too few bins, with all these issues encouraging rodents and crows.

She said: “There’s a real issue across the Wandsworth-managed housing estates in the borough.

“Whenever I raise this with the council on behalf of my residents, it does become quite political and I get real pushback from the majority administration about it being essentially the residents’ fault.

“I get very upset when people blame the residents, this has to be a partnership.”

She said an area particularly affected is Roehampton’s Alton Estate, where five blocks, Binley, Winchfield, Dunbridge, Charcot, and Denmead Houses are grade II* listed buildings inspired by renowned architect Le Corbusier’s work.

“They’re of enormous architectural significance and the fly-tipping and the lack of care for those buildings is really heart-breaking,” Gilbert added.

VALUABLE: The Corbusier-inspired blocks in Roehampton.

Binley House resident Dennis Wood, 63, said: “It is a disgusting place.

“I’ve lived in my block for forty years and I’ve never seen it this bad.”

Wood said that the bins are full, so people leave their rubbish beside the bins, which leads to builders also putting waste there, and on collection days only the contents of the bins are taken away, so the growing pile of rubbish remains.

The problems don’t stop at the door to the block.

Wood added: “You’ve got people literally doing a number two in the lift.

“When I first moved in here you could eat your dinner off the floor in this block, it was that clean, and now I don’t even put my shopping on the floor in the lift, and that’s in bags.

“The council has got to do something about it.

“They’ve got to see what the estates look like.”

However, Wood said that representatives of the council rarely visit the estate.

FLYTIP: Dumped furniture on the Alton Estate.

Another resident of a Roehampton social housing estate, who asked to remain anonymous, shared a similar experience.

The woman, 41, said: “I think it’s a combination of people feeling like the council doesn’t think they matter.

“The inside of the communal areas is utterly disgusting, and this leads to people thinking ‘Why should I take care of this place when the council isn’t taking care of it?’

“I think the rubbish is almost like a metaphor for how everybody feels about the lack of council response to anything that we ask to be done.

RODENTS: Bins with no lids and dumped rubbish encourage squirrels and other animals.

“I feel really embarrassed bringing my children’s friends home for playdates. 

“It’s awful, you don’t want to bring your children’s friends back here and you’ve got to walk past a whole heap of abandoned cars that look terrible, you walk past all of this mess and this litter and no weeding being done, and then you see more litter and dirt overflowing from the bins and the fly-tipping outside and you walk inside the building which is not cleaned properly, walls falling apart on the stairwell, and you have to get into the lift, which has usually got some dog urine in it, and all the buttons are all broken in the lift. 

“You have to pass all of that before you get into our flat.

“People actually need to see change. 

“They need to see that the council cares about the building and wants to improve it.”

She would like to see more bins, both recycling, and general waste, and for compost bins to be provided to reduce the amount of general waste produced.

She pointed out many of the bins don’t have lids, which leads to squirrels and crows getting into them.

INSUFFICIENT: Many bins are damaged and overflowing, with extra rubbish piling up around them.

Wood and the woman both asked for working CCTV to record people who fly-tip, along with timely intervention by the council regarding both rubbish issues and the maintenance of the blocks, with damaged items being replaced rather than temporarily fixed again and again.

A Wandsworth Borough Council spokesman said: “We go to great lengths and spend significant sums keeping our streets and estates clean, but if people continually choose to fly-tip their waste then it is always going to be an uphill battle.

“If people spot a fly-tip then we would ask them to contact us so we can remove it straight away and if anyone has information that could identify those responsible we’d love to hear from them via email to [email protected].”

Data published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs released in February shows 4,745 total incidents of fly-tipping were reported by Wandsworth local authority in the year 2019/20, the second-lowest number of recorded fly-tips in inner London. 

In comparison, neighbouring Merton had 13,047 fly tip incidents, Hammersmith & Fulham 13,332, Westminster 15,283, Kensington & Chelsea 6,490.

Data obtained by a Freedom of Information request shows an increase in reported incidents in Wandsworth since then, with 5,041 recorded between October 2020 and October 2021.

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