Forum’s bid for Soho ‘to come clean’

Group makes 18 recommendations for a speedy crackdown on rubbish

Friday, 5th August — By Tom Foot

Wardour Street Soho IMG_8825w

AN ambitious plan to transform Soho into “a rubbish-free zone” within a year was revealed this week.

The Soho Neighbourhood Forum (SNF) released a “forensic review” of failing waste management systems in the West End.

It is based on work carried out by a research team who talked to 130 businesses and residents in Wardour Street, Soho Street, Frith Street and Romilly Street over five months. The 88-page dossier, Soho Comes Clean, makes 18 recommendations for a rubbish crackdown with parking spaces replaced by recycling storage containers, futuristic robot bins, new collection times and patrolling waste management officers.

SNF chair Lucy Haine said it was making public “its bold ambition to remove all waste from Soho streets within 12 months”.

She said: “This first ever in-depth study into the real data behind the dumped bags on the area’s pavements represents a significant first step in that direction.”

She added that the SNF would be working closely with the city council to bring in the changes to “deliver a cleaner, greener Soho”.

The review says the council should operate CCTV by bins to stop fly-tipping, introducing more incentives for people who use reusable cups and bottles, while creating better public access to toilets.

The report reveals that 17 waste management firms are operating in such a small area.

One resident said: “Waste collection in Soho is a free-for-all, with dozens of companies criss-crossing the area in large, noisy, polluting, lorries at all hours of the day and night.”

The review has been carried out by consultancy firms “Orbitl” and Crystal Associates on behalf of the SNF. It concluded that there was “deep concern and frustration among most people about the level of waste left on the streets” and that this “threatens to tarnish this global brand”.

The report also suggested that a business improvement district, BID, could help unify waste collection.

BIDs see a new levy introduced to all businesses in an area with the funds used to manage and maintain the shopping area.

Almost 80 per cent of businesses agreed “waste is a problem and that hospitality businesses are primarily responsible”. An estimated 130 tonnes of waste is generated in Soho every day.

West End ward councillor Patrick Lilley welcomed the report, calling it “a historic effort to change Soho for the better”.

Related Articles