Council accused of dodging duties after residents forced to clean parklets

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A council has been accused of dodging its duties after allegedly getting residents to clean up new parks that it set-up on streets.

Lambeth council is creating 25 so-called parklets across the borough. The pocket-sized parks, which generally include seating and planters, are formed from old street parking spaces.

But the miniature gardens have come under fire from some residents who are unhappy they remove essential parking and who claim the parklets have become a magnet for litter and antisocial behaviour.

Empty cans in planters in parklet on Railton Road, Brixton (Picture: Robert Firth)

Residents can apply to the council to set-up a parklet on their street. But as part of the arrangement, they have to sign a contract agreeing to clean it daily and clear away any litter.

Residents say the parklets are often neglected and they have to clean-up food packets, beer cans and even vomit from the gardens themselves.

Mr Wilson, owner of Black and White café on Atlantic Road in Brixton, said he was fed-up of having to clear rubbish from the parklet outside his restaurant.

The 69-year-old said: “What we find is a lot of people drink and mess up inside them. There’s always stuff in them like just now there’s a newspaper in the plants. I have to go and clean it up myself.

“It does not work at all. Some people are sick down there and they leave their bottles and cans. No-one comes and cleans up this one. There’s one down the road that gets cleaned up, but not here.”

Mr Wilson said that business had also suffered as a result of the council removing parking spaces, previously used by customers visiting his restaurant, in order to create the parklets.

He added: “It’s really bad for business. People used to park outside and come in and buy the food then take it away. They can’t do that now. But of course the rent we pay doesn’t change.”

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “Parklets can play a huge role in bringing people together whether it’s to sit down and have a chat or work together to tend new community gardens.

“It is sad that some people thoughtlessly litter parklets and council staff litter pick them twice a week to keep them clean.”

Pictured top: A parklet in Atlantic Road, Brixton (Picture: Robert Firth)

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