One of the jobs of a local Councillor (especially an opposition one) is to get the Council to admit that it is doing something wrong even when it doesn’t want to. In this case, a simple question from a local resident about a street cleaning machine purchased with the funds allocated to Eltham by Boris Johnson when Mayor of London seems to suggest that the Council is more worried about the new Plumstead Party than it cares to admit.
Let me talk you through it…..
What street cleaning machine?
A local resident emailed me to ask whether it was true that the Council had decided not to seal the new paving on Eltham High Street as was originally planned and whether the Council had indeed spent £25,000 on a street cleaning machine. The resident’s follow up question was if there was a street cleaning machine, why was it not being used in Eltham?
After a lot of back and forth, I eventually nailed down an answer which read as follows:
“Dear Cllr. Drury,
I thought I had answered these points via my email below but apologise if I was not clear enough.
- It was decided not to seal the paving as it has not proved successful elsewhere and would not be cost effective.
- A specialist cleaning machine was purchased by Waste and Street Services and is/will be used to clean the High street as well as other areas of the borough. I understand the cost was in the region of £23,250”
So there we have it – there was a street cleaning machine purchased for £23,500 which could be being used in Eltham. Now the impression I was given was that the machine would be used some days in Eltham, some in Plumstead, some in Greenwich and so on, however, despite these reassurances, the High Street didn’t seem to be getting any cleaner and many people commented on how dirty it was looking.
So where was the street cleaning machine?
So my next question was the wrong one – why isn’t the street cleaning machine being used effectively in Eltham. I assumed it was there a few days a week, but when out with a drink with a friend from Plumstead he mentioned that the Eltham street cleaning machine had been deployed to his High Street. I quizzed how he knew this and he said because he had asked the operatives who had confirmed it was going to be there for at least six weeks. Now naturally I emailed the Council to ask was this true, but so far I have received no answer at all.
Instead what I noticed was that the Council was actually advertising the fact that it was cleaning Plumstead High Street.
Now obviously it is possible that the Council is using another machine to clean Plumstead High Street, but the dirty streets of Eltham and the failure to answer direct questions make me deeply suspicious.
Of course if I was completely honest, I’d suspect that the creation of a new party (The Plumstead Party) making the point that Labour had ignored its part of the Borough for too long has scared the Council so much they simply decided to abandon Eltham and head north with the street cleaning device bought specifically for Eltham.
I could be wrong, but it feels like a strong coincidence. I’ll keep you updated on the reply I receive from the Council when I get it….