The Chair invited questions from Members of the Sub-Committee on the report. The following questions were asked:
a) What were the current personnel numbers for permanent and agency staff in collections, and what was being done to ensure efficiency in collections as well as reducing the number of missed collections?
The Interim Director of Environmental Services advised that there were around 100 core staff, and none were engaged from agencies. A crew comprised a team of 3, with 1 driver. Each vehicle was fitted with computerised monitoring devices to ensure that no collections were missed, a function that was typically performed by the driver.
b) Was capacity being built to the other crew members to operate the devices in delivery vehicles?
The Interim Director of Environmental Services informed Members that resilience was being built in collection teams through training to improve skill sets. This would ensure better utilisation of personnel. Nonetheless, that required the support of all staff and their representatives (unions).
c) Would assisted collections continue under new proposals in the report?
The Interim Director of Environmental Services answered in the affirmative. Assisted collections would continue for residents who required them.
d) Given the number of complaints on the increase in houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) in Harrow, were all of them licensed, and what was being done to ensure compliancy?
The Interim Director of Environmental Services stated that any complaints could be done online and the Council would launch investigations. Furthermore, the discovery of unlicensed HMOs was usually intelligence-led. Moreover, residents that suspected an HMO to be unlicensed could contact Planning Services, who maintained a register of such properties.
e) Was the Council collaborating with landlords to ensure that HMOs were licensed? It was hypothesised whether “innocent” landlords would be prosecuted if their tenants converted houses into HMOs without their knowledge?
The Interim Director of Environmental Services advised that investigations would reveal the extent of landlord involvement to determine whether they were complicit. Moreover, tenants found to have broken the law would face the consequences.
f) What was being done to tackle fly tipping on private land?
The Interim Director of Environmental Services advised that the standard approach was to establish the status of the landlord, and to determine if dumped waste was localised or from elsewhere. If it was the former, the due process of the law would be followed. In the latter, investigations would be launched to find the culprits, and prosecute them. Given the experiences of other authorities, it was likely that there were around 10 criminal gangs involved in the larger fly tipping in Harrow.
g) What was the level of recycling in Harrow? Was there any information about residents’ recycling habits at ward level?
The Interim Director of Environmental Services advised that densely populated wards usually had issues with food wastage. An action plan was being developed to show a pictorial portrait of various recycling materials, and what to place in specific bins. The plan was currently in draft form and would be presented to Members at the next meeting.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.