Saturday, 19 June 2010


No, this isn't about England's poor performance last night, but the title could aptly describe it, so I'm told.

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government secretary, is writing to the Audit Commission ordering it to withdraw guidance which allows councils to replace weekly bin collections with fortnightly pick-ups.

In February councils were given the green light to collect general household waste every two weeks by the Audit Commission, which monitors council spending. Councils were also threatened with being 'marked down' in inspections if they didn't follow the guidance and about 160 of the 386 English local authorities complied.

Mr Pickles cannot force councils to return to collecting rubbish weekly, but he can direct the Commission to withdraw the guidance.

Here in Scotland we have fortnightly pick-ups for general waste too, along with fortnightly pickups for paper and garden waste.

Since these started I've noticed a great increase in bulging bins and burst black bags on the pavements in Dundee and Perth. Surely that must be a health hazard. Last year it was reported Britain had experienced an explosion in its rat population with councils saying that call-outs to rat infestations had hit a 10 year high with a 15% rise on the previous year.

Councils, instead of acknowledging the problem is the fortnightly collections, have done nothing.

I'm all for a return to weekly rubbish collections. Let's not forget vermin were the cause of the plague and other deadly epidemics. Where are the Elf and Safety suited and booted when we need them? It doesn't take a genius to realise that fortnightly collections are a step backwards not forwards where public health is concerned. It would be interesting to see just how much money councils have saved changing to these timings. Precious little possibly.


gildas said...

I completely agree. There is something very strange about the modern world. taxes and costs increase. The number of council employees increases. But the level of actual basic services - the kind of thing which makes really means something for the "ordinary" citizen (not a Russian oligarch, banker, a politician with a gold plated pension, a WAG), declines. Take post offices - a really helpful, useful facility, particularly for the elderly (no politician, not everyone wants to do their banking on line, and some people actually want to post a letter). A real service - so they are culled.
Recently my elderly parents had to clean out one of their various (4?) bins, because it was full of maggots. The reason? No bin collection in 2 weeks in hot weather. Their Council tax has gone up, of course, and they will be fines if they put the wrong stuff in the wrong bin, but there we go, that's just life.
We witness the rise of the rats and the urban fox - somehow, strangely symbolic of the petty barons who run public life
Gildas the Scribe

gildas said...

PS sorry about my spelling/ it's never the best. But you get the gist, I hope

John said...

Obviously here in our Border wonderland we have weekly pickups of waste and of paper. There is a recycling depot very conveniently sited and well run. I cannot imagine living in my flat with two-weekly pickups.

Munguin said...

We still have weekly collections in Dundee.

Anonymous said...
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Hamish said...

I have never disagreed with you more, subrosa.

Others have pointed out the factual error in your article. Many places in Scotland still have weekly collections of general rubbish.
(The timing of these collections in Edinburgh is erratic, but that's another matter).

Of course local council jobsworths want to see more and more money spent on rubbish, that is, collecting rubbish. Blue boxes for something, red for the other.
Surely green has to be for garden rubbish. Oops that's for general rubbish.
I take my glass, paper, cardboard with me when I'm going to a place that has waste dsposal bins.
And yes I do my best to put them in the right bins.

I completely disagree that it is good to have noisy poluting vehicles revving up and down our streets in order to collect our rubbish.

It should be our responsibility to dispose of our own rubbish.
Then perhaps we would (a) consume less and (b) reuse more.
Recycling is very much third best.

Idle Pen Pusher said...

But, SR! What about Global Warming?

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

I recently asked the "cabinet member for waste and recycling" on my council about adopting the Spanish approach in some appropriate areas (Large communal bins emptied daily) he, and the entire panel looked shocked - really!

Many local businesses are still smarting from the bi-weekly collections being imposed without a commensurate reduction in the fees they're charged in addition to their business rates....

The parochial, narrow minded inflexibility of councils combined with their propensity to hose taxpayer's money at the mendacious cartel of waste companies is a disgrace. The chaos of EU landfill rules (which by the way, many European countries chose to ignore) has resulted in an explosion of profits for the waste companies as they hike prices to the panicking, floundering councils.

The mindcrushingly foolish reclassification of many types of waste on elf n safertree grounds requiring an appointment at the dump and a 20 mile round trip is pure slap head stuff.

Back lanes are littered with bursting black plastic bags and other fly tipping.

As you say, the only plus side is if you are a rat...

Joe Public said...

Our council (in Essex) changed from weekly collections, to alternate-weeks general rubbish then recycle collections.

In theory, no problem.

However, the crafty buggers replaced the 'general' bin with one having only about 50% of the volume of its predecessor.

In addition, they also dictated that (for 'H & S' reasons FFS!) the quantity of rubbish must not prevent the bin lid closing properly.

Consequently, our council now spends an unbudgeted fortune clearing up the increase in Fly-Tipped rubbish. I wonder why?

subrosa said...

I get the gist gildas and your spelling isn't bad at all.

subrosa said...

We have fortnightly pick-ups here in Perthshire John. Some people in flats have kitchens which look like mini recycling centres. I feel so sorry for them.

subrosa said...

Well you're lucky Munguin. Must just be the students clearing out that caused the excess I saw last week. :)

subrosa said...

Oh dear Hamish, that was my error. I should have said here in Perthshire, Scotland we have fortnightly pickups. Perthshire is a vast county.

I admit we don't have boxes of any kind. We have bins. Blue for paper, brown for food and garden waste, green for general waste. Bottles I take to the waste depot. I refuse to be dragging bags of plastic/tin/ etc there and consider I do reasonably well, but somehow I think you'd find me rather wanting. :)

You've missed my point Hamish. We still get the same amount of rubbish vehicles here. One week it's the blue bin collection, the next week the brown and green one. No difference in pollution here.

If I had a good reduction in my council tax then I may be happy to dispose of my own rubbish. The problem would arise when I was no longer able to drive or dig holes in the garden.

subrosa said...

Oh IPP! I'd much rather think of a present public health issue than worry about a non-proven science.

subrosa said...

I should have included businesses in my post Gordon. They've had to buy more bins to accommodate the extra rubbish.

Italy has a similar approach to Spain. In Florence mini-rubbish collector comes round after midnight emptying the bins and sweeping the streets. In fact one was a most attractive woman fully bedecked with her lovely jewellery. Her uniform was chic and her rubber gloves to die for - far more attractive than marigolds.

We used to meet her on the way back to where we were staying. I'd have like to have spoken to her but my Italian is so minimal.

It seems sense to me in busy areas that waste is collected during the night, but you're right, it's too sensible.

subrosa said...

Thankfully we didn't have such an underhand move Joe, we were left with the 'old-style' bins.

Piles of rubbish lying about really is a health hazard if we do get a spell of hot weather.

cynicalHighlander said...

You've got a garden SB get a compost bin for your garden waste and get a wormery for your kitchen waste will save you money on buying fertilizer.

subrosa said...

I've got 3 compost bins CH, two for soft stuff and one for shredded woods and leaves. Work a treat. The kitchen waste goes in the soft ones.

I've seen wormerys and often been tempted.

What goes in the council bins are bits that would take years to compost. Nothing else.

Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.

banned said...

All very well Mr Pickles helping us back to weekly collections while at the same time one of his colleagues announces that we must be reduced to keeping slop-buckets for food waste (without mentioning that this was yet another diktat of the evil EU).
We only have two bins at present, one for recycling stuff and one for "other". I have witnessed them both going into the back of the same dustcart, no doubt to comply with some short-term tartget or other.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Sophia Loren's other life then?

Make rubbish collection glamorous - maybe that's the way ahead - get celebrities involved!

Boy George has already broken the ice so to speak :-)

subrosa said...

We have posh new carts here banned for both the paper waste collection and the general collection. Must have cost a fortune if you check out the best-selling 'cart' website.

I refuse to keep slop buckets or any other container for food waste. It's not hygienic.

Mind you, there's little food waste in this house. Not much gets wasted, it usually ends up in soup. :) What they don't know...

subrosa said...

Ra-ther Gordon. :) She was very attractive and possibly in her 30s. I was more interested in her rather beafy colleague who I thought would make a good rugby player.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Boy George wasn't perhaps the best example / role model ;-/

Your observations on garbage equipment are likely only scraping the surface of the rip off that's going on. Councils around me I have noticed are using rented in top of the market "cart" trucks.

I commend to you Milton Keynes Council with a facility that was taken back from contractors when they pushed their garbage gold rush luck too far and tried scalping the council with massively (and falsley)hiked operating fees. An exception that proves the rule. They do tours! I am trying to convince a girlfriend to go up for "something that'll give a whole new dimension to a dirty weekend" but she's not taken the bait yet - she's really indignant about our local refuse collections....

subrosa said...

What a shining example Milton Keynes is to the rest Gordon. Also the fact they take so much pride - to offer a dirty day out - shows they have nothing to hide.

I think you'll have to back up your offer slightly. Maybe a few hours at MRF followed by a voucher for the local spa where she can spend your money on a massage or any other relaxing treatment. Just a thought. :)

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