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Alternate Bin Collections

Keityh Parkins | 13.11.2006 16:46 | Analysis | Ecology

Across the country under the guise of recycling many local authorities are only collecting rubbish once a fortnight. There is a hidden agenda at work, and it has nothing to do with recycling.

'They are punishing people just for leaving their rubbish out, but they are doing nothing about the real bad news, the fly-tippers. While ordinary people get fined for breaking obscure rules, nothing is being done to deal with commercial fly-tippers.' -- Sir Paul Berresford, former local government minister

'... these fines are oppressive, cheap bullying, and grotesquely unjust to people who pay their council tax and expect the council to do its job and take their rubbish away.' -- Ruth Lea, Centre for Policy Studies

Our efforts at recycling in this country are abysmal and we need to do more.

The response of many local authorities across the country has been to introduce alternative weekly collections, that is recyclable one week, other waste the next, or in other words a fortnightly refuse collection.

Under the guise of recycling, local authorities are cutting the services we receive with no reduction in the Council Tax we pay. Year-on-year we see our Council Taxes increase far faster than inflation for deteriorating services.

We don't see much for our Council Tax, a regular weekly bin collection is one of the few services we pay for and value.

Talking to friends on the continent, they have daily rubbish collections. Even a friend who lives high up in the mountains has a daily rubbish collection.

France has a daily rubbish collection. France does better than us at recycling. A move to fortnightly collection therefore has got nothing to do with recycling, it has everything to do with cutting the services we receive from the council.

If we are to increase the amount we recycle, local authorities have to work with local communities, not alienate and antagonise them as many seem determined to do.

The latest to introduce fortnightly collection is the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. 7,000 households are to be compulsory guinea pigs in a six-month experiment to be launched January 2007.

Crafty that, introduce the fortnightly scheme in the middle of winter in the hope that residents will not notice the stench of rotting and decaying rubbish.

Four council employees are to wander the streets to ensure compliance, and I daresay someone to manage them. More cost to the public purse, ie the local taxpayer.

We are now in the middle of Global Warming, long hot summers, but our rubbish is only to be collected once a fortnight.

It is claimed there are no health implications. A claim that is clearly nonsense and based on no evidence. Only now has Defra decided to launch an inquiry into the health implications.

There is a hidden agenda at work here.

- rubbish fines – 33,033
- excess noise – 33
- graffiti-spraying – 47
- fly-tipping – 883
- dog-fouling – 4,066

Councils turn a blind eye to anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping, Rachman landlords, but impose on-the-spot fines with the fervour of religious zealots for minor infringements of arbitrary rules laid down by council jobsworths.

The legislation used, intended to deal with littering, is the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.

The Rotten Borough of Rushmoor sends out its correspondence in paper envelopes with a clear plastic window. How long will it be before we are required to separate the two, place in the appropriate bin, with an on-the-spot-fine for non-compliance?

How long will it be before we are fined for walking on the cracks in the pavement?

In Liverpool, 60 people were fined and threatened with court action for putting their rubbish out on the wrong day. Meanwhile a blind eye is turned to the young thugs who terrorise local residents. The same council is bulldozing homes under the discredited Pathfinder scheme.

In Hart, local people had high hopes when community activists and Independents took seats on the local council. But sadly, they have proved to be just as out of touch with the public as the lot they kicked out. An Independent holds the rubbish portfolio, but he has ignored calls from the public for his resignation. Leaflets indicating what bins were to be put out when were wrong, but instead of carrying the can, the rubbish portfolio holder has blamed contractors who delivered the leaflets.

In a year, nearly £900,000 has been collected in fines! This despite the fact that one-third of fines go unpaid.

Local authorities get to keep the money paid in fines.

Local communities are fighting back. Councils who have introduced fortnightly collections are being forced by people power to revert back to weekly collections.

People pay their Council Tax, under threat of a prison sentence if they refuse. In return they expect to receive services from the council, the most basic of which is a weekly collection of their refuse. What they do not expect is to face on-the-spot fines for their failure to comply with crackpot schemes imposed without any public consultation by their local Town Hall.

In no way is this to downplay the importance of recycling, waste reduction, more to highlight the failed approach of local councils.

We need to double our efforts at recycling. The target of 40% by 2010 is pathetic. We should be aiming for at least 80% by 2010.

The focus on recycling is in itself misplaced, we should be cutting down waste and penalising those who generate waste, not using it as an excuse to bully householders and introduce yet another stealth tax.

In the summer, when in season, I go to my local market and buy fresh peas. These are shovelled into a paper bag or straight into a plastic carrier bag. Minimum waste. On the other hand, in my local supermarket, all year round, fresh peas, shrink-wrapped on a plastic base, air-freighted in from Kenya.

The News Group, publishers of the local papers within the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, distribute a local freebie The Courier. It goes straight in the bin. Should they not, as The Ecologist suggests for all freebie newspapers, face a charge for the collection and disposal of this unwanted rubbish and an environmental charge for the number of trees destroyed and CO2 produced?


Black and blue confusion, Surrey-Hants Star, 2 November 2006

Lester R Brown, Plan B 2.0, Norton, 2006

Steve Doughty, 100 a day fined by bin police, Daily Mail, 11 November 2006

C Irving, Hard as ABC, letters, Surrey-Hants Star, 9 November 2006

Mike Lane, The Regeneration Game, 2006 {DVD}

Andrew Milford, Clean and green, or just rubbish, Farnborough News, 27 October 2006

Andrew Milford, Alternate bins plan gets a trial run, Farnborough News, 10 November 2006

Nicky Monk, Hopes pinned on trial, Surrey-Hants Star, 9 November 2006

Nicky Monk, 'I'm staying put' – Rubbish supremo, Surrey-Hants Star, 9 November 2006

Keith Parkins, Natural Capitalism, October 2000

Keith Parkins, A sense of the masses - a manifesto for the new revolution, October 2003

Keith Parkins, Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city, April 2006

Keith Parkins, Pathfinder hits the buffer, Indymedia UK, 17 October 2006

Jill Pretorius, Weekly recycling would show council is really serious, Fleet News, 3 November 2006

Retailers promise action on waste, BBC News on-line, 13 November 2006

Stop the Waste, FoE, 2006

Keityh Parkins
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