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City management - differences between Poland and UK


spiritus 68 | 666
25 Jun 2015 #1
I've become interested in local politics more as I get older and in particular how local towns and cities are managed i.e. waste collection, local budgets, tourism etc

Can anyone think of ways in which Poland does things better than here in the UK ?
Newsy 1 | 11
25 Jun 2015 #2
Dealing with snow springs to mind - Polish cities do so well, British cities act as if snow is a once in a million year occurrence and are never prepared. Think public transport is generally better too (certainly in terms of value for money - comparing Warsaw to London so not 100% fair as latter is so much bigger)
jon357 67 | 16,918
25 Jun 2015 #3
Dealing with snow springs to mind - Polish cities do so well, British cities act as if snow is a once in a million year occurrence and are never prepared.

Swings and roundabouts. In the UK they're much better at keeping the pavements gritted - in Poland it can often be very slippery, even in the city centre.

I'd also add the graffiti problem - in Poland the city authorities don't have the same statutory requirement to remove it within a certain number of days (in fact 48 hours in the case of racist or otherwise obscene graffiti) as UK local authorities do - the effect of this we can see in all Polish cities.

Another issue is how many people know the names of their local ward councillors, how often councillors hold neighbours surgeries and how efficiently a councillor helps a constituent.
OP spiritus 68 | 666
25 Jun 2015 #4
Yes-I'm not expecting a definitive "Poland is better than the UK" conclusion but I'm just curious as to what things work better and which things are worse.

Straza Miejska is a good idea I think. A police force that deals with secondary crime.
Grafitti is indeed a problem in Poland although there are some real works of art out there too ! I find Polish towns generally cleaner than their UK counterparts specifically in terms of litter and fly tipping (which is becoming a real problem here in the UK).

Does anyone know if waste collection is provided by the city and paid for by local taxes or whether it is privatised ?

Regarding your comment about local councillors I think it mostly depends on the constituent being interested in wanting to know the name of their local constituent rather than the councillor making an effort for their name to be known. I really like the idea of having city presidents/mayors who appear to be more accountable than faceless councils here in the UK.
jon357 67 | 16,918
25 Jun 2015 #5
Straza Miejska is a good idea I think. A police force that deals with secondary crime.

This I like.

Grafitti is indeed a problem in Poland although there are some real works of art out there too

Maybe 1% - the rest are just 'tags' etc.

fly tipping

A big problem in Poland too - especially in forests near main roads.

One thing that works well in small-town Poland is that the units of administration are much smaller - rather like the UK pre-1974. This means it's far easier to speak to the official you want.
Chemikiem
25 Jun 2015 #6
Straza Miejska is a good idea I think. A police force that deals with secondary crime.

The UK has Police Community Support Officers ( PCSO's ), who do a similar job, although unlike the Straza Miejska they are not armed with batons, CS gas etc.

bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17702622
kpc21 1 | 763
25 Jun 2015 #7
Does anyone know if waste collection is provided by the city and paid for by local taxes or whether it is privatised ?

From July 2013, each municipality is obliged to provide the waste collection to everyone. There is a special tax, of two different values depending on whether the household declare to segregate the waste or not, whose value depends on the municipality, but it's generally about 20 PLN (in big cities it's higher, but the waste is collected more frequently, in rural areas it's often for example once a month, in cities - once a week).

In my town it's done so that the tax is 8 PLN for a month for a person if the waste is segregated (into two fractions - waste which can be recycled and those which cannot) and 13 PLN if it's not segregated. The waste which can be recycled is collected every month, the waste which cannot (or all the waste if someone doesn't want to segregate it and pays the higher tax) - every two weeks. Apart from multi-family houses, from which the recyclable waste is taken every two weeks and non-recyclable every week, but then it's the problem of those who manage the house, not the dwellers.

In the past it was so that everybody had to organize the trash collection on their own. It was possible to sign a contract either with a private company, or with the city to receive the waste with a constant frequency, but it was also possible to have no contract and call them when you have full bins. The problem was that many people either burned the waste in stoves for heating in winter, which resulted in air pollution (this is probably the main reason of Cracow's smog), or threw it out into forests, roadside ditches etc. Unfortunately, there are still some stubborn and stupid people who still do it...

Another issue is collection of sewage from places where there is no sewage system. In this case nothing was changed and it's still like it was with the waste previously. Still many houses have these vessels for sewage with leakages so that there is no need to collect the content so often or they are pumping the sewage to roadside pitches, rivers, or even to unused wells.
OP spiritus 68 | 666
25 Jun 2015 #8
Straza Miejska is a good idea I think.

I beg to differ. They are not very similar at all. Straza Miejska seem to be a fully developed police department with their own fleet of vehicles and have high visibility in practically every Polish town I have ever visited. PCSO's on the other hand are lucky if they get a bicycle (literally-I'm not being sarcastic) and you are having a lucky day if you spot one walking the streets.

In my town it's done so that the tax is 8 PLN for a month for a person if the waste is segregated (into two fractions - waste which can be recycled and those which cannot) and 13 PLN if it's not segregated.

How does that work in apartment blocks ? In theory, residents in apartment blocks could arguably produce the same amount of waste (sometimes more) than someone in a small house but apartment blocks have a communal bin. How does the city know who is recycling and who isn't ?
jon357 67 | 16,918
25 Jun 2015 #9
They are not very similar at all. Straza Miejska seem to be a fully developed police department with their own fleet of vehicles and have high visibility in practically every Polish town I have ever visited.

And not only - they have a lot of other duties, largely inspecting things.

How does that work in apartment blocks ?

The housing co-op have a bulk contract and this is recouped via the czynsz, paid per square metre/number of residents in the flat. Great, as long as the housing co-op pay their bills...
kpc21 1 | 763
25 Jun 2015 #10
How does that work in apartment blocks ? In theory, residents in apartment blocks could arguably produce the same amount of waste (sometimes more) than someone in a small house but apartment blocks have a communal bin. How does the city know who is recycling and who isn't ?

AFAIK, then the management of the block (housing association or cooperative) makes this declaration and the whole block either segregates the garbage or not. But I live in a detached house, so I am not sure about it.

One thing that works well in small-town Poland is that the units of administration are much smaller - rather like the UK pre-1974. This means it's far easier to speak to the official you want.

There is much difference here between the small towns and big cities. In the cities it's a bit like the central politics of the country. The authorities are often "remote" and out of the reach for a dweller. In small towns it's very different. The contact between the dwellers and the mayor as well as the town council is much better. It's also seen in the elections, when in big cities virtually all the candidates for the city council and for the mayor are party members, while in small towns many of them are not party members, and even if so, they are just people, you may often even know personally. In big cities the local elections are like the elections for the parliament. You vote, in fact, for a party. In small towns, you vote for a person.

Yet another thing are rular areas. The villages are grouped in municipalities (called in Polish gmina). Sometimes they create a single municipality with a local town, sometimes the town is a separate municipality from the surrounding villages. And it works more or less like in small towns, although the area which is govenred by a single mayor and council is much bigger. Each village has also its representative called sołtys who is supposed to intermediate between the dwellers and the municipality authorities.
Chemikiem
26 Jun 2015 #11
They are not very similar at all. Straza Miejska seem to be a fully developed police department with their own fleet of vehicles and have high visibility in practically every Polish town I have ever visited. PCSO's on the other hand are lucky if they get a bicycle (literally-I'm not being sarcastic) and you are having a lucky day if you spot one walking the streets.

Got that bit wrong then! I thought that PCSO's did a similar job in that they are there to support the Police in the community, but I didn't realise they had their own vehicle fleet etc. And yes, Straza Miejska do have high visibility, can't really miss them on the streets of Poland.
tictactoe
26 Jun 2015 #12
What is secondary crime ?

A Police section that deals with secondary crime ! I don't understand that ?, a crime is a crime.

We have the Police force and they' have different departments like Traffic Police who deal with, traffic and transport.

Then there is Transport Police who deal with rail crime.

We have a general Police force to deal with general crime anything more serious goes to dedicated sections.

Does Poland have Magistrate and Crown court system.
jon357 67 | 16,918
26 Jun 2015 #13
What is secondary crime ?

It's a term connected to crime prevention and is also occasionally used to refer to breaching by-laws.
kpc21 1 | 763
26 Jun 2015 #14
Then there is Transport Police who deal with rail crime.

In Poland, there is a separate force responsible for the railway - Straż Ochrony Kolei (SOK).

The police has different regional and local departments and then they have divisions responsible for example for road traffic, crimes, prevention etc.

The difference between the police and straż miejska is that the police is state, the straż miejska is managed by the local authorities. Although you can often see a patrol consisting of two people: a police officer and a straż miejska officer. Maybe because straż miejska isn't authorized to some issues, to which the police is.

Here you can see for example divisions of the regional police department in £ódź:
lodzka.policja.gov.pl/content/category/7/73/129

They have:
- Computer crime division
- Narcotic drugs division
- Escort division
- Intelligence division
- Economic crime division
- Psychologic division
- Road traffic division
- Corruption division
- Operational division
- Investigation division
- Division for protection of secret data
and some "technical" divisions like finance, transport, IT etc.
jon357 67 | 16,918
26 Jun 2015 #15
Does Poland have Magistrate and Crown court system.

No, it has regional courts for criminal and some civil matters and other specialised ones for other things. They also have 'electronic' court which only deal with guilty pleas - somebody innocent is transferred to the regional court in order to be wrongly convicted...
kpc21 1 | 763
26 Jun 2015 #16
First of all, the courts are independent of the local authorities and government. But, I think, it's a rule in the whole Europe, it comes from the Montesquieu's triple division of authorities.

First of all there are local courts (sąd rejonowy), one for a powiat or a few powiats. They are the first instance dealing with the least serious issues.

Then there are regional courts (sąd okręgowy), there is usually a few of them for a province. They deal with more serious issues (crimes, divorces etc.) as the first instance and with appeals from the local courts.

The next are appeal courts (sąd apelacyjny) not each province has one, dealing with the appeals with the regional courts - only as the second instance.

Generally, you can appeal only once, to a court of a higher instance. For most cases, you can then make a complaint to the Supreme Court in Warsaw (Sąd Najwyższy). But there are some exceptions, for example in case of alimony.

If it's not enough, then there are international courts.

There is also a separate system of courts, in which you can appeal from administrative decisions.

Another thing, which is independent of the local authorities, but subject to the government, are the tax offices (urząd skarbowy).
jon357 67 | 16,918
26 Jun 2015 #17
First of all, the courts are independent of the local authorities and government.

In theory, anyway. If expert witnesses are needed to assess a complainant's (always called pokrzywdzony, even if no crime has yet been established!) or witness's psychological reliability, they still use the Soviet-style biegły who is appointed by the court and never goes against the prosecution. Much the same with court appointed medical experts.
Steveramsfan 2 | 306
26 Jun 2015 #18
AFAIK, then the management of the block (housing association or cooperative) makes this declaration and the whole block either segregates the garbage or not. But I live in a detached house, so I am not sure about it.

The management company responsible for the apartment block ask all the residents if they want to segregate or they want to continue paying more tax. After the vote they implement what was decided.

I think in Lodz from 2016 all apartment blocks must segregate their waste and the management company need to organise communal areas into the correctly segregated bins.
tictactoe
26 Jun 2015 #19
I see thanks for the replies.

So how does state Police and local authority Police collate their information; is it all just one big database and everyone had acces or does one have to apply for information from the other and no sharing is done ?
kpc21 1 | 763
26 Jun 2015 #20
For sure even the national police don't have a single database for everything, they have many different computer systems incompatible with each other. Like all the public offices.

If you speak Polish, you may read a little about it here:
e-korupcja.pl/24-poltax/88-najwieksze-afery-korupcyjne-iii-rzeczpospolitej

If not, you may try with Google Translate. It smells conspiracy theory a little bit, but, generally, seems to be true.


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