Grimebusters Hotline Goes Cold

Conservatives say the scheme has fallen flat on its face

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The Conservatives say that the Council's 24/7 Grimebusters telephone hotline, launched in December, has flopped.

In the last three months the Council has received 122 calls – less than 2 per day – which the Tories claim is costing Ealing taxpayers 'a whopping' £182 per call.

The Council has revealed that the costs of the new Grimebusters hotline have been as follows:

£2,700 per month for the additional team to service the 24/7 hotline
£1.85 per call handling charge (evening and weekends)
£10,712 marketing and communications
£3,279 vehicle livery to advertise the Grimebusters hotline number

Over a three month period all these costs added together and divided by the 122 calls the hotline has received has meant each call has cost £182.

Cllr Jason Stacey, Conservative Group Leader, said:

“Even with all the fanfare and publicity surrounding the Grimebusters Hotline theses figures show that it has been a complete flop. In the current economic climate there can be no justification for a simple phone call to report graffiti and fly tipping costing taxpayers £182.

It is ironic that the Labour administration has wasted this money on a hotline very few are using at a time when they are cutting the number of graffiti teams operating in our borough. I would have thought residents would much prefer money to be spent on having the teams in place to actually remove the graffiti rather than wasting it on a gimmicky reporting scheme that has fallen flat on its face.”

Responding to the criticism Labour Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for Transport and Environment, said the scheme is more than the phone line:

''The vast bulk of the costs is not the calls, but the increased service to ensure a faster response on what is a key priority area for our residents and these costs will be included in our new contract. The proof over the past few months since the Labour administration came in is that our streets are the cleanest they have ever been, a fact verified by independent

''It’s a fact that I know keeps Cllr Stacey and his colleagues up at night. We are always keen to ensure people know that the Grimebusters line (020 8825 8825) exists and is available to them to report any fly-tips, graffiti and emergency cleansing.

"As part of the increased levels in our graffiti and fly-tip teams at weekends, we are actually making sure that more and more of these are collected within our new 24 hour deadline. The teams are also keeping on top of fly-posting and other issues, which people raise as concerns.

''If the Tories are suggesting there have been too few calls, then I’ll take that as a congratulatory pat on the back for keeping on top of these issues and so there’s no need for people to be making those phone calls.

''Typically, the Tories are also misleading the public as the calls they are referring to are also just the out-of-hours calls and do not include the calls made during the day. However, we’re not complacent and we want to make sure everyone helps us to keep Ealing clean."




15 March 2011