Our council send us a newsletter every couple of months in the mail addressed to The Occupier.
Last month, there was a cute smiley face on a green wheelie bin under the headline:
“Let Us Take Your Garden Waste” and “Sign Up Now” with a sticker balloon for £25.
Since we moved here 7 years ago, we’ve had 3 wheelie bins. Black for domestic, Grey for recycling and Green for garden waste. The black and grey bins are emptied on alternate weeks, and for 9 months of the year, the green bin emptied on the same day as the black one.
You now have to pay £25 to have your green bin emptied, again on alternate weeks throughout the year, except the 2 weeks over the Christmas period. That sounds excellent value doesn’t it, £1 a time (for each additional green bin (which you have to buy from the council at £27 each) you’ll pay another £25) . You’ll get a nice shiny sticker for your bin(s) and a calendar showing your collection day included in the price (wow)! But, if you put your green bin out and it is sticker-less, it won’t be emptied, so no cheating and hoping for freebie collections.
In my opinion, this isn’t saving the council anything. This is actually increasing their revenue to the tune of £25 (per bin) per household that signs up for a service that was originally ‘free’ as it was included in our local taxes (council tax). We haven’t had our bill for 2014-15 yet (due April 1st) , but according to the media, council tax bills should be ‘frozen’ again this year and so local authorities are looking for means of attaining more funding, or as they put it ‘saving money’.
Disposal of all household waste is certainly an issue. There have been rumours for years about charging households by weight, though how this was to be implemented was never made clear.
If services are reduced, or charges are to be applied, it will only lead to illegal fly tipping, especially as some tips already charge and limit the public to what can be dumped there.Hubby and I haven’t signed up.
Twenty five pounds may not seem a lot, but we see it differently.
It’s a week’s food shopping, 2 weeks coal for our fire, a month’s electricity, almost a month’s phone bill, a month’s fuel in my car, almost 3 month’s water rates, or the dog’s annual injections.
We also see it as the thin edge of the wedge, and if they are going to charge for disposing of garden waste, it’s logical that recycling and domestic waste are likely to follow. Already we have to take glass to separate recycle banks in the village.
Also, £25 is a nominal sum now, but if it’s like prescription charges when introduced at 20p per prescription years ago and now £7.85 PER ITEM on a prescription, you can see where I’m going here. It’s easy money for the councils. But not for the consumer if they haven’t got it.
Our green bin was actually full when the newsletter hit the mat. It also had a lot of the wrong things in it as they have modified the acceptable items to just grass cuttings, leaves, twigs and cut flowers. Tea bags, hedge trimmings, small branches and vegetable peelings are no longer green apparently.
So, we got the ramps out, wheeled the bin into the back of the car, and drove down to the tip. The empty bin is now sitting in the garage, and we will take our green waste to the tip in bags as and when necessary. It’s on the way to the woods, so not even a special trip!
Our collection day has been changed from Friday to Wednesday, and rather than putting the bin out at 6.30 on the day, we are now permitted to put it out the night before in readiness for collections that start at 5.30am. Terrific. The prospect of being woken up an hour earlier with the mechanical grinding, grunting and groaning of the refuse truck is really appealing.
I suppose we’re lucky to have bins though as other counties collect black sacks. Originally, the sacks were provided by the council, 2 to a property, but with later cutbacks, residents had to buy their own, and they had to be of a certain standard. If they were purchased in bulk from the council, all the better, but households were still limited to 2 sacks per fortnightly collection. That’s not actually a lot of rubbish when you think about it, less than half one of our smaller wheelie bins.
Here’s another thought. Our bins are never full, and so are only put out every third or fourth collection day. We still ‘pay’ for the collections we don’t need, and the green £25 charge is set, no pro rata for joining half way through the year or refunds if you move.
So, if other householders decide like us not to pay for green bin collections, the council will actually be out of pocket. It will still cost the same to run and man the trucks for collections, so for those that DO, it still has to go to that street, passing all the properties that DON’T.
Now, I know a good way the council could save a lot of money, every year.
They should revert back to the old way of distributing their newsletter, ie. A double sided flyer included with the rest of the advertising JUNK MAIL that is delivered free to every letter box with the mail, rather than someone (wages) have to put it in an envelope (expense) , run off an impersonal ‘Occupier’ address label (more expense) and slap on a first class stamp (currently 60p, rise pending) .
Thing is, that will put some poor soul out of work, reduce trade and productivity (less envelopes and other stationery) and affect Royal Mail profits (no stamp sales) .
Swings and roundabouts, but without the playground.