The ongoing and seemingly unsolvable rubbish issue on Fishponds Road in Eastville

Updated: Jan 20



As part of the CIL funding bid for the Eastville Community Art Project, the civic part of the project included a solution for the commercial bins on Fishponds Road:

- Bin stores for the communal bins including for the shops with a lock and key


Background about the bid:

This solution was proposed by the local Councillor Mhairi Crowther when the first round of CIL funding became available. The turn around times were very quick and the idea was fleetingly discussed in a meeting with the community group. LitterARTI was contacted to apply to bid for the proposed work, with a very short turn around time.


This was the images of the original idea: It was to include bin boxes designed to fit around a single bin, but built so that they could be attached together to allow for bins to attach together. They were proposed to be offered with a key to lock the front and the top, allowing access for the client and waste removal services.





It became clear that having a bin-box solution was not feasible, as putting a door would cause obstruction on the pavement, when it was opened to wheelie out a bin to be emptied by the waste contractors. The risk of damage and vandalism in this area is also very high, that having a wood construction also would not be feasible.


After initial meetings and conversations with the community, there seemed to be a lot of hard feelings from residents towards the shopkeepers because of the dirty bins, as these were not kept clean and tidy. Residents also appeared frustrated because of the lack of enforcement and support from the Council to address this issue. The residents wanted the bins removed, and had very serious safety concerns about them.


After speaking to the shopkeepers themselves, they were frustrated because their bin's locks were constantly broken and used as public bins by passers-by, even residents bringing their black bin bags to dump in there. Upon further conversations, it did appear that some of the residential properties on Fishponds Road did not appear to have enough bins for the people who lived there, especially the shared bins used for flats. The shopkeepers were also frustrated for being penalised with fines for fly-tipping next to their bins, and felt they did not have much control over that. Some traders also told me that they stopped reporting fly-tipping, because they got penalised for it.


It became clear that more work was needed, which included elements of enforcement by the Council, as well as behaviour change by the shopkeepers. By just putting boxes around the bins, it would not solve the problem. It was also clear that some mediation was necessary between residents and shopkeepers. Therefor this part of the project needed to be reviewed, before offering a new solution.


£1000 of the budget was reassigned to do a consultation and further research into bin-solutions.


As a point of action: we first got in touch with Bristol City Council's Clean Streets coordinator, Kurt James - about the project which was conducted on Stapleton Road - "Show Stapes some Love" See this article in Bristol 24/7. I had a meeting with Khalil who coordinated the project and this is what I learnt: After initial conversations with shop keepers he realised that it was a lack of knowledge and understanding the information which was the main cause for the mess left by businesses on Stapleton Road, through building good relationships with them, and giving them access to clear information, he was able to support them to change their ways.

They have monthly litter picks on the street too and working alongside the enforcement team, he was able to support them in accessing the correct information and educating about recycling and all that.

They also had a reward system - in the form of a Certificate - to promote pride in the area. (art idea here too), also getting the local press involved (i.e. free promotion for businesses), the local gym also handed out free day passes to incentivise people to join the litterpicks.


My thinking was to get him involved to engage with businesses, and look at duplicating the successful project on Stapleton Road.

Because of budget constraints, it was decided to first do our own investigations before paying an external consultant.


After talking to shopkeepers about the bins before, it also appeared that they were upset about parking restrictions, as well as business tax rates. As a next step I got in touch with a founding member of the Stapleton Road Traders Association, Sonny Richards. In our conversation it emerged that if the traders could form a collective, they might be able to object to issues together, as the Traders Association on Stapleton Road did manage to make changes regards to the parking restrictions on their road, as well as shift the blame which was placed on them for the mess on the streets to also make the residents accountable. Sonny agreed to come and talk to the traders on Fishponds Road about how Stapleton Road set up their Traders Association and how the Traders on Fishponds Road might be able to get things work more favourably for them.


So we personally invited all the Traders on Fishponds Road for a meeting on the 31 July 2019. We had Sonny Richards from the Stapleton Road Traders Association, as well as John Parker from Bristol Waste Company present, as well as Mhairi Crowther, the local Councillor, the Deacon from the Methodist Church on Fishponds Road, as well as Secretary from Eastville Community Group, and a local resident who volunteers with the Old Workhouse 100 Fishponds Road. 3 Traders attended.


Here was our vision:

Lower Fishponds Road,

A FRIENDLY AND THRIVING MULTI-CULTURAL HIGH STREET

Celebrating our diversity, engaging our community and supporting our businesses and other organisations.


Here are the outcomes of this meeting:


A priority was set to tackle waste as no 1 issue,

as Fishponds Road is a gateway into town and carries the image of Eastville and if the rubbish issue gets resolved - its a visual vote of confidence - in then hopefully being a catalyst to start addressing other issues people face i.e. speeding, pollution, vandalism, prostitution.

Problems:

1) Bins are messy and obstructing the walkway - older people, less-abled people and children - using the bus stops located in close proximity.

2) Bins erected without community consultation

3) Can the bins be located anywhere else?

4) Fly-tipping

5) Generally untidy

6) The waste is all contracted to different companies, so gets picked up at different times and days.

7) Bins get vandalised - locks get broken and forced open to put fly-tipped items in - then they do not get repaired but overfilled... attracting more fly-tipping.

8) Cardboard - not caged up, picked up by different unlicensed operators.

9) How to know what is domestic and what is business waste?

10) Can the bins be removed off the pavement?


Solutions to Explore:

1) To work with the traders to try and find a solution to streamline bin collections and match costs, which Bristol Waste Company can negotiate a deal with the businesses collectively

2) Motivate the traders to join in the High street identity

3) Enforcement for untidy bins

4) More regular collections

5) More litter street bins

6) Perception of the bins - a sense of ownership accountability and pride - Business names on bins and stating it is for commercial use only

7) Change the visual appearance of the bin area - to not attract fly-tipping anymore (this would be dependant on the behaviour change of the traders)

8) Create a visual identity for the bins - dividers perhaps to section it off from the walkway.

9) Residents and businesses encouraged and rewarded for reporting fly-tipping

- Obtain figures of fly-tipping in the space from the reporting of clean streets teams and

motivate locals to report.

10) Cameras - to prosecute fly-tippers

11) A sticker for Traders: I am Health and Safety Compliant on businesses premises



After this meeting - end of July 2019, it was Summer holidays and then LitterARTI was busy delivering art workshops with Glenfrome Primary School and the Scouts in September and October 2019. In November 2019 we started having conversations with the traders again and followed up the points raised in the meeting with Bristol Waste Company and Bristol City Council. I got in touch with Georgie Bryant, who was working with the Enforcement Team at Bristol City Council, but who were also the Community Engagement Officer for Eastville in the previous years before the Neighbourhood Partnerships got dismantled, so very knowledgable of the area.


At around the same time the Big Tidy Campaign was launched by Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste Company. It turned out that Georgie was assigned the new position as Team Leader of this funded campaign to sweep through Bristol and deep clean the streets, working alongside the Enforcement team to check all Commercial waste contracts were compliant and getting people to sign up and pledge to do something in their communities to help keeping it clean. One of the new requirements for businesses would also be to have a sticker on their bins with the business name on it for accountability of their bins. Georgie informed us that the Enforcement Teams will be visiting all the businesses, during December.


Mid November 2019 we did a calculation of all the Traders' bins on Fishponds Road, trying to find out who the owners were in order to try and speak with them. It was important to try and build a positive relationship with the Traders, to try and get their sides of the story.



We also delivered a letter to all the Traders on Lower Fishponds Road, stating who we were, and giving feedback about the meeting we had about tidying up Fishponds Road, as well as that we were hoping to work with them to address the bins issue. Here is an excerpt of it:


Dear Sir / Madam


Lower Fishponds Road,


A FRIENDLY AND THRIVING MULTI-CULTURAL HIGH STREET

Celebrating our diversity, engaging our community

and supporting our businesses and other organisations.


LitterARTI is a not-for-profit social enterprise bringing communities together around

social and environmental issues using the arts. We have been granted CIL-funding from

Bristol City Council to realise this project in Fishponds Road to beautify the area, bring

the community together and tackle waste issues.


This project is overseen by the Eastville Neighbourhood Action Group.

LitterARTI met with traders and local residents earlier this year, 30 July 2019, to

discuss issues on Lower Fishponds Road.


Traders and Local residents agreed that the visual appearance of Lower Fishponds Road is

important. When places are well cared for this has a positive impact on those living and

working there. Areas that are unkept can have a negative impact on fear of crime,

personal well-being, affecting issues like depression, anxiety and lack of exercise. Therefor

it was agreed that everyone to work together to tackle this problem.


LitterARTI will be working to tackle the waste related problems on Lower Fishponds

High Street and will be visiting you over the coming weeks to discuss possible solutions.

You may also be visited by the Big Tidy team who are also working in the area on

improving the street cleansing and streetscene.


We learned a lot by talking to the Traders and the objective to try and clean up the road was met positively by everyone. It was however very difficult to get hold of the Owners, in order to speak to the decision makers, who were not there at set times. It was also clear that some businesses were more keen and approachable than others.


We compiled a list of all the commercial bins on Fishponds Road and monitored them over a few weeks. We found that 1 trader had his own security camera installed; that the bins were generally overfilled on the evening before they got emptied; that some Traders claimed their bins were locked which were not; a Trader had discovered household rubbish fly-tipped in their bin by opening the bags and finding an address in there; there was a shortage of communal residential bins and recycling boxes; businesses had many waste removal days over the week for different types of waste, but cardboard seem to be picked up at random times; the late night off-licence traders had lots of issues regards to vandalism and concerns about prostitution.


As a response to this work, we felt it was important that the community also showed their commitment to wanting to clean up the area, without only making demands on the Traders to change their ways. We started to organise monthly community litter picks.

This was specifically aimed to be on Fishponds Road, to give people an opportunity to talk to the Traders, but also the residential areas surrounding, as well as East Park Estate.


After the community meeting was held in January 2020, where we also invited the Big Tidy Team to come and talk to the residents about what they have been doing in the area and to raise any specific waste related issues, the first litter pick took place in February 2020 focusing on Fishponds Road and East Park Estate. Then we had the last litter pick in March 2020, just before Lockdown 1, focusing on Fishponds Road and the streets inbetween Fishponds Road and Stapleton Road.




Here is a list of useful information collected from Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste Company following up from the meeting:


1) Fly-tipping figures for the years 2018-2019 obtained in February 2020:

" The fly tipping in Eastville for the last 2 years is 611 reports."


2) A different location for the bins: whether the BT land was potentially appropriate for relocating the bins.

This was the response from BT Property:

" As you know BT has quite recently installed a new 3 metre fence and gate to the front boundary of the building, this was as a result of anti-social behaviour within our car park. In the circumstances BT cannot permit use or access into the car park which would in any way compromise our security arrangements. I am sorry we are unable to assist you on this occasion and I hope an alternative solution can be achieved for the refuse bins."


3) Request to install more litter bins:

From Bristol City Council:

"All requests for additional litterbins need to go via Bristol Waste, they will need to do a needs audit before putting in a new bin this will include looking at the number of requests for additional cleansing, so make sure you are reporting that the street needs additional cleaning via https://www.bristol.gov.uk/streets-travel/street-that-needs-cleaning

the cost of install of a bin includes:

The cost of the bin itself/maintenance - repair/servicing- Emptying which can be costly so Bristol waste would need to look at the business case for installing street bins."


From Bristol Waste Company:

" ...the request on to supply additional bins for Lower Fishponds Road to the supervisor who will make an assessment. If this is agreed BCC will need to authorise the additional costs for this action to take place which may not be approved."

4) What are businesses' responsibilities with regards to dealing with commercial waste?

From Bristol City Council, Enforcement:

"All the information regarding business waste management can be found here, pay particular attention to the Commercial waste: your duty of care. https://www.bristol.gov.uk/business-waste-recycling."

5) Permissions to have the bins on the pedestrian sidewalk opposite the road - should this not have had planning permission? The assumption is that the businesses will take more ownership of their bins if it was stood by their shop entrances.


From Bristol City Council, Enforcement:

" Bristol City Council do not give consent for bins to be placed on the public highway. However Enforcement will issue Section 47 notices to businesses stating where and how their bins are to be managed and presented. This may include them being on a certain section of the highway."

Also:

"I have check that the businesses in this area have Section 47’s in place allowing them to be stored on the street due to the fact that there is no rear storage or space within the premises, but the enforcement team will be checking with the businesses to make sure that all options are explored to reduce the number of Bins on the paved area."


6) NO FLY-TIPPING SIGNS to be put next to and inbetween (the hotspot area) their commercial bin:

"I would recommend that you look to do something more creative to deter fly tipping as the standard ones are not that effective as a deterrent. I’m aware that some cities have had more impact when “eyes” have been used, it something to do with people subconsciously not wanting to be watched when engaged in nefarious activities. Having something on the bins would probably work better than on the wall. Take a look at this https://www.citylab.com/equity/2015/12/litter-eyes-research-newcastle/418083/"

(Bristol Council has provided businesses with No-Flytipping signs, but because of the status of the wall, these signs can't be attached to the walls themselves. )


7) What regulations exist for bins being overfilled

From Bristol City Council, Enforcement:

" This is covered in the Duty of Care and would be included in a Section 47 notice."


8) Request to install security cameras or use the existing traffic cameras to get data about the fly-tipping

From Bristol City Council the CIL funding can not be applied to pay towards monitoring, or installation of cameras, therefor you would need to seek separate funding.



Reflections:

The meeting with Traders was very positive, even though there were only 3 Traders, this was the first time that local people and Traders had a conversation about the bins issue on the road in one room.


Inbetween the meeting, and then being able to take action on the bins again, there was a break of a few months - August - till November) This was due to delivering the art workshops during that time. This break led to a lack of confidence by one of the key business people who had attended the meeting, a prominent influencer on the road.


Getting hold of the business owners is really hard and time consuming and then to also find a time which might be suitable to talk to them about an issue which they find mostly annoying, has caused friction. You need a team to be able to do this work.


We were planning to do monthly litter picks until the Summer 2020, but since lockdown 1 in March 2020, the project had stalled, as there was no capacity to be able to continue the work. This activity was promising, but the sustainability of this was in question, as we were doing this voluntarily and the people joining were mostly Councillors. Very few residents.


A big issue is to encourage residents and traders to report fly-tipping in this area. Getting higher numbers would also create a business case for more bins, and for the Council to prioritise the area as a hotspot. The process to report fly-tipping via Bristol City Council website being at the time the only way, is a real obstacle to get this done.


Generally it is hard to promote opportunities to residents in this area from earlier experience. It takes a lot of extra hours and door to door knocking is needed. The litter picks did provide a bit of opportunity to talk to residents as well.


A recommendation for bin dividers as a part solution to the visual appearance of the bins. There are extra cost implications for this, but it will visually tidy up the area.



Another solution alongside the bin solution - to work with the traders - to try and streamline collections - would still be feasible, but this would require a team effort from the community or extra fees for an external consultant.


Covid had a really big impact on this project. Since Lockdown 1 in March 2020, there has been a communication breakdown between us and the community, who only had their next meeting again in October 2020, where we were accidentally not notified in time. The Council had postponed the deadline for delivery for the project, as art workshops due to have been delivered with May Park School had to be cancelled as well.


The bins on the pavement is still a big issue for residents who had an article posted in the Fishponds voice in October 2020. The next community meeting will be held on Monday, 25 January 2021 at The New Place on Fishponds Road, to decide further steps to be taken regards to the bins.


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