Sunday, February 12, 2012

January

One Saturday in early January, I went for a one hour walk around the neighbourhood - found and reported one vandalised sports ground, 5 vandalised Australia Post boxes, one vandalised Sydney Water cabinet, one vandalised play ground, one vandalised phone booth, 10 vandalised electricity kiosks and countless vandalised shops around Five Dock. 

Saturday 14 Jan 2012
But wait! There's more! Went for a walk in the opposite direction on Sunday and found - 4 vandalised bus shelters, 1 vandalised early childhood centre, several vandalised RTA traffic light control cabinets, 3 vandalised electricity kiosks, 1 vandalised fish & chip shop, 1 vandalised playground, 1 vandalised mall, numerous vandalised businesses, 1 vandalised school and one old bloke scrubbing the graffiti off his door entranceway at 9am. Phew.

Sunday 15 Jan 2012
And that was just one weekend in January. There's been lots more since then.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A new year begins

I haven't posted much for a while because it's been a slow three months since my last post. There's been the odd abandoned car to report and a few bits of graffiti - but otherwise, I've had little to do. Which is great - that's just the way I like it.


I went for a ride with BayBUG and our pack has to swerve around this patch of broken glass from a car crash. I reported that to Canada Bay Council, and it was gone a few days later. I found another patch of glass on the footpath around the Bay Run - also from a car crash - and Council cleaned that up pretty quickly. Cyclists are always complaining about broken glass on the road, but how many ever bother to report it?


I found a few more abandoned cars in Concord, including one that had been out of rego for 7 months and had become a holiday home for hundreds of spiders. The car looked like a total wreck, even from a distance, but none of the people living in that street had bothered to do anything about it.


Straying further from home, I got Sydney City Council to repair these bike lane dividers. There are four sets of speed humps along this section of road, and all the dividers had been knocked over by drivers wanting to avoid driving over the speed humps (and slowing down a bit). It only took a few months of correspondence, but Council replaced them in the end.


And there's graffiti - of which I've reported hardly any, as there hasn't been much to report. When I started reporting graffiti to Energy Australia back in 2009, it was normal to report 2 vandalised items per week. I've only reported two in the last 4 months - vandalism still occurs, but at nowhere like the rate it was happening 2-3 years ago. The deterrent effect of rapid and repeated removal seem to be working.




Monday, October 3, 2011

Two more abandoned cars

I just can't get over the fact that I keep finding abandoned cars scattered around our suburbs. I've really got an eye for spotting them - although it's easy when you know what you are looking for. Flat tyres are a good start. Weeds growing up around or under the car are another indicator. The easiest is when the leaves are falling - if a car is surrounded by leaves or flowers, and there are none underneath, then it's a sign that the car has not moved for a while. If there are leaves under the car, it means the car was not there when the leaves fell, and was later parked on top of them. Leaves rarely seem to blow under cars. Spider webs festooned all over the wing mirrors and wipers are also something to look for.


The registration on both these cars expired in March - 6 months ago.


The ute is parked out the back of Concord West train station, and it's slowly filling up with rubbish - although some people can't be bothered tossing it in the back - they've just tossed it around the ute instead. The back of the station is already a bit of a mess - an abandoned ute accumulating rubbish doesn't exactly add to the ambience.


I've reported both to Canada Bay Council - I expect they'll be gone before long.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September update

I don't know what's going on, but things have been awfully quiet around here of late. I've had almost nothing to do - which is perfect as far as I'm concerned. If I were to wish upon a star, it's that I could close this blog down and put my feet up for good.

I know that's not going to happen - human nature being what it is, a new crop of vandals will spring up, or management at the various agencies that I deal with will change, and everything will go pear shaped again. I'll just enjoy the quiet period while I can.

School holidays have just started. This is usually a peak time for vandalism and malicious damage - unless it's cold and wet. I usually don't bother to report anything during the holidays - I let the vandals do their stuff, and then I get it cleaned up when they're back at school.

Sadly, some students use the holidays to vandalise their schools. One of our local schools has been hit during every holiday period over the last few years - and in the same place each time. How sad is that?

--------------

A reporter from a TV station phoned me during the week. Sydney City Council has an arts program called "Art and About", and it's designed to beautify the city. I've blogged about it previously - one thing they do is to get artists to put up large artworks in lane ways. It's not all to my taste, but it looks better than a dark, filthy lane way. As long as it's legal, I don't care. They can paint exploding pink alien fish heads and I won't bat an eyelid - so long as the property owner has approved.

One of their projects didn't go to plan last week - they obtained permission from a building owner to paint a lane way, and sent out an artist to do the work. Unfortunately, he ended up painting the wrong building, and word of the stuff up reached a news desk.

Because the artist put up something that looked like graffiti, they rang me for a comment. I think they were expecting me to bag the work and have a go at Council.

I declined to do so.

I think the arts program is a good idea. Not all of the art is to my taste, but that's neither here nor there. Council didn't paint the building in question maliciously, and they went through the right channels to get permission from the property owner. And then they simply stuffed up - it happens to everyone. I'm not going to go on TV and act all outraged about this, because I'm not outraged at all. If anything, I'm bemused. I just hope they learn from it, clean up the mistake and move on.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I definitely haven't given up


I'm only looking at the blog about once every few weeks at present, so if you leave a comment, it might take a while to come out of moderation. That doesn't mean I've given up - each of these collages is a representation of what I reported over a two week period - each collage covers one week. Lots of abandoned cars and graffiti.


The good thing is that most of these cars have been towed away and the bulk of the graffiti has been removed. The only graffiti left is that on a Housing Commission block - I'm interested to see how long it takes to get rid of it.

The gellato in the bottom right hand corner is what I treated myself to after walking around and photographing all those abandoned cars and vandalised items.

I also attended our quarterly CSPC (Community Safety Precinct Community) meeting last week - that's a combined Police/Council affair that any member of the public is welcome to attend. What was interesting is that the Police have recently caught a few vandals, and are hoping that will lead them to catching a few more. That's great news - whether the justice system actually convinces the vandals to stop vandalising is another matter. The Police can only do so much. I had almost nothing to say about vandalism - but a representative from a local housing association had a lot more to say, complaining that they are spending tens of thousands of dollars per year cleaning up after vandals on their housing estate. Nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels that way about vandalism.

If it's not your property, don't mess with it. How hard is that to understand?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Plugging away

I haven't posted much since April as I've had nothing new to say. The same old problems keep re-appearing; vandalism, abandoned cars, pot holes, flooded drains, flattened signs and the odd fallen tree. As usual, I've been plugging away at reporting them, and then following up a bit later to see if they've been fixed.

What I have noticed is that I don't have as much to report any more - after a few solid years of cleaning up, there isn't much in the way of new vandalism to worry about (although I know our suburbs will go back to a disaster area in no time if we let up). I haven't seen an abandoned car in some time either.  My hope is that Council staff have gotten sick of continually dealing with me reporting these things, and have started noticing more problems themselves and getting them fixed. Canada Bay Council has 300 staff - if they have their eyes open, and are encouraged to report problems, they'll get a lot more fixed than just plain old me.

The summer vandalism season is now over - the winter pot hole season is just beginning. I'll be spending the next 6 months explaining to people that pot holes and damaged road surfaces don't magically fix themselves - if you want them fixed, you have to report them to your local council or the RTA (for major roads).

I was particularly pleased with one piece of work this week - there is a pedestrian tunnel under the railway line near one of our local stations. For years, the tunnel has been dark and vandalised - vandals spray painted over the light fittings, leaving it pitch dark most of the time. I've been going through that tunnel for five years, and in all that time, have never seen an old person using it.

Not long ago, I finally discovered that it was Council's responsibility rather than RailCorp. I contacted Council, and they cleaned it up - a fresh coat of paint and a new set of lights. I went through it yesterday, and for the first time, noticed two grannies walking through it. Either that's completely by chance that I have never seen grannies down there before and spotted them today by fluke, or they were too afraid to use the tunnel before, but are now willing to use it now that it's been cleaned up.

150 days of vandalism in 50 seconds

video


As you can see, I go past this site fairly regularly. I've made it a habit to stop and take a photo (3 photos actually which I then stitch together) in order to track what the vandals get up to over time. Last time I reported this site to the RTA for a cleanup, I suggested that they engage an artist to paint a mural on this wall - I still haven't heard anything back from them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A few updates

We have some conflicting points of view when it comes to advertising posters on road and rail bridges.

I got a comment this week saying:

These sites under the bridges etc are legal sites. It's leased out by rail Corp for advertising.
On the other hand, I got the following feedback from the RTA (Corporate Communications):


Regarding your enquiry of 23 March 2010, the RTA does not allow posters to be displayed on over/under passes on bridges so any application to do so would be declined.

I'm going to write to RailCorp and see what they have to say. I'd be surprised if they had a different answer to the RTA. RailCorp does have legal sites - most of them are on stations facing the platforms, and are large billboards. I worked for the CityRail Marketing Manager at one stage, and he was in charge of the advertising contract. Back then, it was billboards only. They might have changed their policy - I'll soon find out.

As for abandoned cars, the Suzuki that I reported a week or two ago has gone. I was coming home last week and I spotted a bloke jump starting it from another car. The next day, it was gone. I don't care where it is now - so long as we don't have unregistered cars out on the street.

I gave the iPhone Snap Send Solve application its first test last week - it was quick and easy to use and I got a response back from Leichhardt Council the next day (I reported a fresh batch of pot holes down near La Montage in Lilyfield).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Letter to Leichhardt

It will be interesting to see what sort of response I get to this letter:


Citizen Service Centre,
Leichhardt Council
Ground Floor,
7-15 Wetherill Street,
Leichhardt NSW 2040

Dear Sir/Madam

Prosecution of illegal bill posters in the Leichhardt area

I am writing in regard to the proliferation of illegal bill posters on public property in the Leichhardt area, and the prosecution by Council of those responsible.

As you may be aware, this is covered by the Protection of the Environment Operations Act. Bill posting is considered illegal because it is a form of pollution. Councils can issue fines directly to those responsible for producing the bill poster.

Bill posters can degrade and become litter. The proliferation of posters can produce a significant amount of litter, particularly where the posters are made of inferior paper products, are not protected from the elements and are left to degrade. The litter is often deposited upon land and in some instances is conveyed to street gutters where it can further go on to pollute waters. Putting up posters is environmental vandalism.

I refer in particular to the following two sites:

The bridge over the railway line – corner Catherine Street and Lilyfield Road, Lilyfield, and
The road underpass under the railway line at Charles St, Lilyfield (corner of Darley Road).

Posters are frequently put up illegally at both sites, and more importantly, the posters come down quite often and end up as piles of litter on the footpath and on the verge. Either they are not sticking to the walls particularly well, or passing pedestrians are tearing them down.

I am requesting that Council prosecute those responsible for putting up these posters – including the organisations and companies who have paid to have them put up. I am also requesting that Council either undertakes regular clean-ups at these sites (and others like them in the Leichhardt area), or arranges for the responsible government agency to do so (eg, RTA and/or RailCorp).

Yours sincerely

-----------------

I didn't write all that myself - I lifted some of the text from Newcastle Council and some from the City of Sydney. If that's what other councils are doing and saying, then there should be no reason for Leichhardt not to follow suit.

Snap, Send, Solve

A very handy iPhone app called Snap Send Solve is now available. I've installed it, but haven't actually used it in the field yet. It won't be long now before I give it a go. 

The City of Sydney has set up an arts program for brightening up the city's laneways. I've been keeping an eye on the art in Dungate Lane - it's a big improvement, but some idiot vandals have been ripping bits of it down or spray painting over the top of it. Here's a bit more art being glued to the wall. 



Another abandoned car - the rego on this one ran out in January, and it's been sitting here for months. Interestingly enough, I found out recently that the Mayor lives in this area - I wonder if he's ever noticed it, and bothered to report it? It's not like this particular suburb is very large - it's about 3 streets long and 4 streets wide, and this is on the main road leading out of this small suburb. I guess he has other fish to fry...


The Greens were at it again in the closing week of the election - this time, they put up a banner on the pedestrian bridge over the City West Link. It promptly came adrift on a windy day, and was flapping across the path.


This came within a whisker of blowing into my bike wheel as I went past - which would have brought me down. That would have been rather ironic - Green banner injures cyclist. I would have thought that the Greens would put up a banner where it would appeal to cyclists (more their target audience) rather than car drivers on the road below - but what would I know? I wrote to the RTA and asked them whether this banner was authorised - you have to get permission from the RTA and book a spot on these bridges if you want to put up a banner like this.


After it blew down, the Greens tied it back up. However, they put it in a position where it blocked visibility around the corner of the bridge. When I came past the next day, I couldn't see around the corner, and almost slammed into a pedestrian coming up the path. More irony - Greens nearly cause cyclist and pedestrian to crash. I don't believe they were thinking very hard when they put this banner up.

The engineers at Leichhardt Council weren't thinking very hard when they built this bike path extension around the Bay. I wrote to both the Council and Mayor before construction started and asked them to ensure that there was sufficient drainage - the previous extension is prone to flooding as well. They read my second letter (the Mayor never bothered to respond), but utterly failed to do anything about it. The new extension floods even faster than the previous extension!


Here's the Greens posters in a rail underpass. Thanks to a comment on my last post, it's clear that these are illegal and can attract a hefty fine. I'm going to write to Leichhardt Council and ask them to take action - it will be interesting to see if they do anything, given that the Mayor is a Green and he might yet become the new MP for this area. Will they take action against their own, or will they allow them to get away with breaking the law?


Some more views of the vandalised art works in Dungate Lane in the city.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Trashing the neighbourhood

RailCorp are doing work on the old goods line through Lilyfield, turning it into a light rail extension. The area around one of their worksites has been thoroughly trashed by vandals, and it appears that they broke into the worksite over the weekend and pushed the site's portable toilets over. I wrote to RailCorp about the rubbish within and around the site last week - when I went past yesterday, the area was much cleaner, and I noticed three full bin liners at the gate waiting to be picked up. It's a pity that I had to ask RailCorp to clean up their own site - someone from management should have been visiting regularly, and if they were, they might have noticed the sea of McDonalds bags, drink bottles, coffee cups etc inside and outside the fence.


The walls under the railway bridge are a favourite spot for the illegal posting of posters. Last week, posters for the Greens went up. By yesterday, half of them had been torn down or fallen down - along with several other non-political posters. The rubbish from the posters was all over the footpath, and had started washing into the street.




It's a similar story at one of the overbridges along the City West Link.

I've left a comment on Jamie Parker's website, which ironically states "Help me improve Balmain, Leichhardt, Glebe and Haberfield":

Yes, I'd love you to improve the Lilyfield area. Recently, Greens posters have been illegally put up on RailCorp and RTA bridges. Most of these posters are now lying on the footpath or in the gutter as great wads of rubbish. How about going back and cleaning up after yourself, and stop using public assets for your advertising. Stop treating our environment as a rubbish tip.

The state election is this weekend. The most common form of political advertising is coreflutes nailed onto power poles. What I've noticed from recent elections is that by the weekend after the election, Labor and the Liberals will have taken most of them down. There's always the odd one that is missed, but they manage to get 95%+ very quickly. Sometimes, most of them come down on the Sunday after the election.

I'll be keeping an eye on the Greens coreflutes to see if they bother to take them down as rapidly and comprehensively. After the 2007 federal election, I had to write to them two months after the election to ask them to clean up their rubbish. They're good at putting it up, and hopeless at taking it down.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Slightly overheated car and boat

I spotted a burned out car in Lilyfield on the way home last night. When I circled around to have a closer look, I found this burned out boat as well.



The bloke in the photo was quite blasé about the wreck - his input was, "They burn them here all the time and then push them into the canal".


Where I spotted it from - it stood out pretty clearly from across the canal. Will be interested to know if anyone else bothered to report it - I emailed Leichhardt Council when I got home, and rang the Police Assistance Line.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How Green is this - not.

One thing I've noticed after the last few elections is that the worst party by far at cleaning up their election material is the Greens. Their coreflutes hang around on power poles for months after the election is finished - at least Labor and the Liberals generally have theirs down within a few days. The Greens were so hopeless after the Kevin07 election, I wrote to them asking to remove their rubbish from our neighbourhoods - which they did. Goodness knows why they needed prompting. Probably memory loss from too many hits on the bong.

Someone at Greens HQ must have overindulging in the weed recently, because you'd have to be on drugs to think that illegally sticking up posters on public property is a good idea.




Especially when those posters have a bad habit of peeling off the wall and blowing around as rubbish.


We've just had Clean Up Australia Day - and straight after, the Greens do their best to trash public property and to litter the environment. What a pack of hypocrites.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Clean Up results

The Sunday just gone was Clean Up Australia Day. I put my name down to help at a site in a housing commission estate. This is what we found when we got there - I'm not sure if it was ever picked up - the site organiser didn't show up, so we went and helped out elsewhere. 


There wasn't much rubbish to pick up at the next site, but I did find a damaged park bench (which I've reported to Council). Here's what gets me about damage like this - Council staff or contractors visit this park every week or two to mow the lawns and empty the bins. You'd think that they'd report something obvious like damaged furniture - and in some cases, they do. But in too many, they don't. There are nearly 300 Council employees - more than enough to spot just about every maintenance issue and abandoned car in our city.

This is a systemic problem that is present in just about every government body these days. Employees only concern themselves with the items contained within their narrow function, and to hell with everything else. Leaders that have their act together look for and recognise these sorts of problems and act on them before they become big problems. If our leaders were doing what they are paid to do, I wouldn't be doing this. I don't expect the Mayor to be filling in pot holes and picking up litter and mowing the grass - but I do expect him to be ensuring that the Council is performing at maximum efficiency and effectiveness in delivering services to residents. When I see things like this, it makes me wonder if they've really got a grip on things.


Abandoned truck in Chiswick, spotted whilst walking between the two Clean Up sites.


Abandoned van, spotted whilst walking home. This is the 2nd time I've reported this one - the owner registered it last time, but hasn't moved it since, and the rego lapsed back in Jan.


This empty space is the sign of success - it used to contain two Jags that had been rusting on trailers for a decade. Council removed them last month.


This wall made it into the Daily Telegraph last week. The RTA came along and painted it on Thursday the 3rd of March. This is how it looked at 1640hrs on the same Thursday.


This is how it looked 5 minutes later after 3 kids on scooters, no older than 12, had been and gone. They might have been as young as 8. They're so illiterate, they couldn't even spell "Police" - but sadly, they knew how to spell "fuck". I've reported them to the "Poice".


And this was how the wall looked on Monday the 7th. Sadly, it looks like all this was sprayed on during Clean Up Australia Day. Oh, the irony.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Strathfield vs Canada Bay

I was asked last week to write an opinion piece for the Strathfield Scene on graffiti. Before submitting it, I asked a few friends to eyeball it and provide feedback. One said, "Gee, you're pretty harsh on the Strathfield mayor, and you must really like the Canada Bay mayor".

Actually, no.

If the mayor of Canada Bay was doing his job properly, this blog wouldn't exist. I'd have nothing to do. The fact that I have spent the last three years running around trying to clean up the neighbourhood is a savage indictment on his administration.

The photo below shows his campaign office from his 2003 election bid. It's on Great North Road in Five Dock. It was vacant for a long time, and was also covered in graffiti for a long time. I finally contacted the mayor just before Christmas in 2008 and asked him to call the owner and get it removed (this was before Council changed their policy regarding graffiti removal). If he really cared about cleaning things up, surely he would have noticed that the building with his name plastered all over it was vandalised and an eyesore?


As for the Strathfield vs Canada Bay comparisons, we got lucky when the state government provided grants a few years ago to buy graffiti cleaning trucks. Strathfield didn't. What annoys me is that a very effect graffiti removal program was shutdown after just one year - if the state government was serious about graffiti removal, it would have provided grants to councils every year, and Strathfield would have its own truck by now - and the Strathfield area would be much cleaner.

I regularly say good things about Canada Bay council - but when I do so, I am endorsing the work of the front line staff that go out every day and clean things up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Going, going, gone

That pile of rubbish that I reported yesterday - as of this morning, it's gone. It took Leichhardt Council staff less than 24 hours to get rid of it. Thumbs up to the staff that had to clean up after the low lifes that dumped it.

Funnily enough, I got an email at 7.15am this morning to say that a job had been registered to pick it up - that was after it had already been cleaned up.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What a load of rubbish

I spotted this pile of illegally dumped rubbish on the way to work - it wasn't there yesterday morning. I've just emailed Leichhardt Council to let them know about it. I hope Council sort through it and find something that provides a clue as to who did it.


To think that it's Clean Up Australia Day this Sunday, and people are doing stuff like this.

This load was dumped right outside one of our rowing clubs, and there were dozens and dozens of rowers using this car park this morning. I wonder if any one of them has bothered to report this as well? Or is it just somebody else's problem?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quantity has a quality all of its own

People sometimes ask me, "Why do you bother with all this trivial stuff?"

Simple - quantity has a quality all of its own (as Stalin used to say).

What I mean by that is on their own, small problems are just that - small problems. However, when you add them all up, they become a big problem. If you take care of the little problems, one by one, you stop the entire place from turning into a dump. Just look at the bedroom of your average teenager - if they go for a week without picking up their dirty clothes, throwing out their rubbish, putting clean clothes away and taking any plates and glasses back to the kitchen, it quickly becomes an absolute disaster area.

I don't want my suburb to turn into the equivalent of a teenager's bedroom, so I pay attention to the small stuff. Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.

Quick cleanup

About this time yesterday morning, I emailed Leichhardt Council to let them know there was a big patch of broken glass on Liliyfield Rd.

7am this morning - broken glass was gone.

Not all clean ups are that quick, but they'll never happen at all if people don't know that something needs fixing.

I had to drop the eldest off at guitar school last night - on the way home, I noticed that a car had taken out a sign on a roundabout in Five Dock - the bumper was wrapped around the sign post, and the post was almost flat against the ground. Even though I have the memory of a goldfish, I managed to remember it when I got home five minutes later and quickly dashed off an email to Canada Bay Council before I forgot about it. Total time required - about one minute. Where's the problem, what's the problem, what needs to be done about it.

The driver of the car in question didn't bother to clean up after themselves - and I bet they certainly didn't even entertain the thought of reporting the damage that they'd done - and the bill for that damage will be picked up by local ratepayers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Smashing fence

Either this fence around the Bay Run has started falling apart from old age, or someone has come past and kicked the horizontal poles off the uprights - you can see one lying in the dirt towards the left. A few more ended up in the water. I spotted this nearly two weeks ago - only just got around to reporting it tonight. Better late than never. This report went to Ashfield Council via email - took about a minute to find the email address on their website, attach the photo and let them know where and what the problem was.


Since Ashfield Council haven't fixed it over the last two weeks, I guess I'm safe in assuming that no one has bothered to tell them that the fence is all smashed up.