Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Things to do (number five six in an ongoing series)

Back in the old days, dustbinmen had a pretty horrible lot: out in all weathers, dragging big metal dustbins out of people's back yards and manually tipping them into the back of the lorry. These days it's still not a bundle of laughs but with wheelie bins and automated loading vans there's less wear and tear on the dustbinmen. So this should be a golden age of emptying-the-bins servuce delivery, right?

Wrong.

For some reason that I can't fathom, the refuse collection service has become the touchstone of all that is worst in English public sector service delivery, with every prodnose and jobsworth having a ball at the expense of the paying public.

I have a row once a month with my local council, which is how often I put my bin out for collection (single person household, and if I weren't addicted to crisps I reckon it would be once a quarter). By a row I mean that I complain and they ignore me; and yes, I do know the performance indicator targets for customer complaints even if they don't. The problem arises in that they won't empty any bins that aren't "on the edge of the property." Their usual interpretation of "edge of the property" is littering the pavement and making pedestrians, pushchair users and wheelchair users go out into the middle of the road to get by (kerbs and kerbsides being littered by parked cars). Officially, the council tells me that I should push the wheelie bin against the gate and climb over the garden wall to get to work (I wish I were making this up; I didn't have any refuse collections for two months one time when the council decided to dig grave-sized holes next to the front gates of every house down the road).

Elsewhere, a chap in his nineties is told that he won't have his bin emptied because he accidentally put the wrong type of rubbish in it. The bin's bigger than he is, so you can imagine how easy it would be for him to recify his error.

People in rural areas are required to wheel their bins down leafy lanes to the nearest main roads. "We can't spend time going down each and every lane," say council spokespeople. I'll bet the bailiffs would manage the journey to ask for the poll tax to be paid.

Some people have been prosecuted and convicted -- prosecuted and convicted -- for having put their wheelie bins out the night before when they should have been put out between 0700 and 0730. Others have criminal records for having left the lids of their bins slightly agape. In contrast, if you get pissed and kill a few kids with your motor car you get a few points on your licence.

Problem is, I can't think up a suitably appropriate come-uppance for the fuckwits and jackoffs involved. If the time ever came I suppose I'd resort to emptying a town's wheelie bins on the front lawn of the Chief Executive & Town Clerk.

1 comment:

Papercuts said...

Christ on a bike, this sort of nonsense makes me steam at the ears.

I put my bin out maybe once a fortnight (similar to your dietary requirements, if I wasn't addicted to chocolate it'd be once a quarter too) and when I have one of my 'must throw loads of stuff I haven't used in ages out' binges, I - shock! horror! - have been known to leave the bin lid ajar.

So far, no problems with the bin men, although I think we're supposed to call them 'refuse collectors' now.

Probably because they reserve the right to 'refuse' to 'collect'.

Bah and double bah!