Monday, January 4, 2010



Just after Christmas in his Sunday Mirror column, local Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas wrote the following:

Eyesore Gardens hotline restores my faith in politics

"It sounds odd but my faith in politics has risen this year.

I know, I know expenses, gravy train and all that. Yet one simple idea miles from Westminster shows what can be done. It's all about front gardens.

We have all seen the evidence - split bin bags, grass 2ft high, bushes out of control, a mattress dumped outside the front door.

I remember a chat with a lovely 86-year-old lady who only wanted to talk about the garden opposite, which looked like Steptoe's yard. She had given up on politics because she had lost hope.

We elected a new council leader in Dagenham - Liam - a few months ago. His first idea: people must look after front gardens. Or else.

Residents can ring the Eyesore Gardens hotline. A team asks the landlord or household to clear up. If they don't, the team issue a legal notice which can mean court and a hefty fine. The council can move in to sort out the garden and bill the owner or landlord directly.

Simple stuff but the results are dramatic with 15.5 tons of rubbish cleared. Well over 2,000 properties visited, over 90 per cent have voluntarily cleared up gardens.

Dagenham council has served nearly 200 legal notices and is in the process of prosecuting the worst culprits. And even the local MP (me!) joined in a cleanup day.

The area now looks totally different and hope has been restored. The 86-year-old lady I chatted to is overjoyed.

There is a message here for all Westminster politicians for 2010: This is Labour is at its best - local, on the side of residents and not prepared to tolerate behaviour that disfigures our communities.

If Labour nationally could just come up with some common sense policies like the "Eyesore Gardens" idea in Dagenham then we could still stick it to the Tories over the next few months - and even in the aftermath of the expenses scandal, rebuild faith in politics."

High praise indeed...

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