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A group of concerned locals, Friends of Stationers Park, Parks representatives and Veolia representatives met last night at the Hornsey Vale Community Centre to thrash out a solution to the thorny problem of Veolia's presence in the park.
When Veolia took over the street cleaning contracts for the borough in April 2011, part of Haringey's remit was to provide areas where Veolia could store their carts.
Unfortunately for Veolia this co-incided with stinging park maintenance cuts which meant that no replacement was sought for Reg the Park Keeper who'd carefully tended Stationers for many years. After the rapid decline of the upkeep of the park following his departure, Friends of Stationers Park met with the Parks' department to try and find ways of keeping the park well maintained using local volunteers and a lot of goodwill. Some ideas for maintenance were to acquire litter-picking equipment and tools for keeping the water feature in check which could be stored in Reg's hut. We had also discussed letting the Safer Neighbourhoods team use the hut as a base, thus creating a much needed presence in the park to deter the increase of anti-social behaviour witnessed around the park, particularly with regard to a group of people bringing rather aggressive dogs into the park to foul.
However, with no consultation with the Friends of Stationers Park (who had been working tirelessly to raise funds for regenerating the decaying fort and secure the play area for future generations), an alarmingly stark and unwieldy looking 10ft fence complete with metal spikes was erected round Reg's hut. This we were told, was to house Veolia's rubbish carts and act as their depot. Eyebrows were raised as to the nature of the structure, given that the school fences that protect children and a school are only half as high and blend into the shrubbery just a few metres away.
Although a blow to plans for ongoing park maintenance and despite the foreboding appearance of the construction, we'd hoped this arrangement would create a mutual benefit for the park. It would solve the dramatic increase in littering in the park and hopefully a presence would deter anti-social behaviour. We presumed too that the money for renting the area would help boost the maintenance coffers.
Not so. No contract was sought to clean within the park, and with only a peppercorn rent being paid to the council, Veolia's presence in the park was of no benefit. Just an unwelcome, imposing fence totally out of keeping the with nature of such a small park and a noisy early morning intrusion in such a densely populated area.
Various solutions have been put forward in the months since Veolia's arrival (mature shrubs to be planted in front of the fence and wattle cladding to be placed in between the railings). Ultimately the solutions were untenable as Veolia wanted the fence and fence spikes visible to deter trespassers and Friends of Stationers wanted the whole ugly mess obscured.
It was clear from discussion last night that Veolia wanted to mend the fractured relationships between them and local residents and secure a good working relationship for the next 14 years. With considerable grace from their lead representative, they offered to relocate their depot to a more suitable site. Result! We accepted their offer with enthusiasm and gratitude.
In the next couple of weeks we shall be meeting again to timetable their departure and ensure the hut is restored to its former incarnation so we can go forward with plans to maintain our beautiful park with volunteers and have a presence from the Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
A big thank you to the unerring pressure of Kle Savidge, Chair of Friends of Stationers Park in looking for a solution to this problem and all the Friends and residents who supported the campaign. A pleasing victory for people power in the community.
So, I'm a NIMBY now? Cheers.
I do take your point that the street cleaners need somewhere to take their breaks, have lockers and storage. But Reg's hut in Stationers Park was never going to provide for that many workers and the fencing required to safely house their carts was inappropriate in that setting.
Also, had there been some consideration of the parks requirements (ie. helping keep the litter under control in a time when parks staff had been cut) us NIMBYs could have been fairly easily placated.
It's not a case of being "not in my backyard", it's asking the council to provide correct facilities for the workers they employ or sub-contract to. There are various much more suitable options and I'm sure soon, we will be enlightened as to what and where they will be.
I very much look forward to knowing the whereabouts of a proper local Street Sweeping Depot for the Crouch End 'Village' according to and within the remit of the 14 year £200M contract awarded to Veolia by Haringey Council.
Currently, neither the Council or Veolia are able to tell me the location or the facilities to be provided. It is all very well 'saying' we will have a 'village' depot without actually saying where it will be.
The rather cynical attempt to provide a third rate and inappropriate facility in Stationer's Park (and hoping to get away with it...NOT) is akin to paying for goods or services without receiving them.
Furthermore, with the Hornsey Recycling Facility due to close soon due to the redevelopment of the site for housing and a Sainsbury's store with carpark, no long term provision for a street sweeping depot is apparent.
When Haringey Council and Veolia are held to account to provide this facility according to the contract, the residents of Crouch End, Hornsey and Stroud Green can be assured that their streets will be properly cleaned for the next 14 years by staff who are provided with the means to do so.