Newtown Isn’t Rubbish And Our Streets Shouldn’t Be Either

This Report was prepared for discussion with WCC CEO Kevin Lavery and other Council Officers at  the Newtown Residents’ Association Meeting on 16th May 2016.

Street Cleaning and Maintenance.

We want to have pride in our neighbourhood and to make a positive first impression for visitors. At present we are embarrassed by accumulated rubbish, weeds, dirty pavements and a generally neglected appearance. We value our character street furniture. fittings and paving and believe our streetscape is potentially unparalleled in Wellington, making it all the more disappointing to see it fall into disrepair. Some bollards are broken, and paving is uneven and broken in places.
We want to ensure that our streets are clean and weed free

  • to reduce environmental harm and pollution- rubbish as well as harmful substances make their way into storm drains and into the sea. Many of the drains in our streets currently have plastic rubbish in them, an alarming preview of what is going to end up in the sea.
  • to reduce the possibility of localised flooding from blocked stormwater drains
  • weeds in cracks in the footpaths and gutters and around drains are not only unsightly but also cause damage to the surface around them as they grow.
  • rubbish is a health and safety issue. Dirt/dust blowing in eyes is unsafe and is not good for respiratory health, clean surfaces help prevent slips and falls, clean streets reduces vermin numbers, broken glass / sharp can edges etc are dangerous.

2016-05-15 14.17.54           b  2016-05-15 14.22.27

a Outside Newtown Mall – one of several like this

b Drain in Normanby St – choked with plastic & other rubbish

Requests for street cleaning improvement, based on observation of what happens now:

  • We would like to be consulted on what streets should be cleaned regularly. We do not believe the regular cleaning schedule is wide enough.
  • Water blasting the pavements in the shopping area either doesn’t happen often enough or is ineffective in removing stains and trodden-in chewing gum. It probably has the added issue of blasting dirt up against the walls of buildings in an unsightly fashion,
  • The cages around street trees add character but they collect rubbish, which is very hard to remove. The preference is for greater attention to cleaning them out, alternatively the ones in trouble spots should be removed and replaced with the water-permeable surrounds that some trees have.
  • Jobs should not be double handled. For example, the weeds are sprayed and some time later the workers return to pull out unsightly dead weeds. Why not pull out annual weeds without spraying? Some perennial weeds might need spraying to stop regrowth, and this is a matter of training staff to know the difference.
  • There are places where rubbish bins are often overflowing – outside the Newtown Mall. and across the road outside McDonalds. More bins might help, eg a bin by the seat in Newtown Ave, and one by the seats outside the St Thomas’s courtyard – places where rubbish often accumulates.
  • Contractors need to provide
    • effective training to staff
    • appropriate equipment: for example several types of brooms (not just one type but several for different jobs)
    • gutters need to be swept by hand and machine not have rubbish picked up by shovels
    • staff need to be provided with good visibility gear

Fix it

 We do find FixIt a very effective tool for reporting problems, which are usually attended to, but we don’t want to have to use it for regular maintenance.

Request for FixIt improvement

All fix it complainants should be automatically notified when a complaint has been actioned/completed, or should get a progress report if there are difficulties or delays with doing the task. Currently there is no notification.


 This occurs after heavy rain when the storm water drains haven’t been kept clear. Last week Cook Strait News reported on flooding in Coromandel St, which a resident says was caused by blocked drains.

  • The drains and sumps need to be cleaned out regularly.
  • After large rain events storm water drains need to be re-checked and cleared – particularly so in autumn when gutters are full of dead leaves.
  • Priority needs to be given to keeping storm water drains clear in areas of prior /known flooding.

Street plantings

Who is responsible for street trees, and planting and weeding on road islands?

  • Street trees have died and left unsightly gaps – we would like them replaced.
  • Some of the plots are very weedy.
  • The road island in the intersection of Riddiford St and Constable Street looks very sad with almost dead plants.

The Future

 What is the thinking in Council on infrastructure planning for Newtown?

How are budgets for Newtown set for things like – rubbish, weeds, gardening, paths and kerbs, shopping centre maintenance and improvement?

How are KPIs set for Contractors? How are they measured?

Do the council officers responsible for different areas ie. roads, rubbish, painting of poles, water-blasting etc talk / plan with each other? How do they consult local residents? Do they have a conversation with contractors?

Who are the different Contractors that operate in Newtown and what are they responsible for?