Friday, 3 December 2010

Local Council and its Rubbish Service

I pay my income tax. It's not an altruistic thing; a computer does it for me to avoid the moral dilemma of whether or not to lie to the taxman. I do, though, have to send off an eye-wateringly large amount to my local council once a year. As the banking genius who invented switch (remember that) discovered, people don't mind spending money if the folding greenery never touches their sweaty palms, and the reverse is true too; if you have to fork it over, it hurts. Now when I get a meal in return for my hard(ish) earned readies, or a pair of warm and colourful socks, it eases the pain. You have to look a little harder, though, for what you get in return for things like taxes, and in particular council tax.

Here in deepest darkest Oxfordshire we're big into our recycling. Cool. Groovy. Saving the planet one plastic bottle at a time. So, I get a green bin and a black bin - recycling and non-recycling. I noticed that everyone else seemed to have a brown bin too. My interest piqued, I called the council and discovered it to be the garden waste variant. This was good news - my neighbours are catching on to me throwing my hedge and lawn clippings over the fence. So I asked for one.

£40. Per year.

Yup, I have to rent a bin from them. Can I buy one - I checked online, they're about £40? Nope, gotta rent our one. Any particular reason? Does my identically shaped brown bin not fit on the collector? The rules. Of course. Silly of me to ask. While we're on silly questions I then ventured to enquire why this brown bin was not included in the £2000 or so council tax. Simple, councilman told me. It wouldn't be fair on the people without gardens. Glad we got that one sorted, easily one of the more pernicious inequalities in the world. Imagine having to pay for something you don't use. Like a £200 billion welfare state. Make those frivolous mowers of lawns pay for their own Bacchic excesses.

Anyway, despite my dismay at the money grabbing dolts doing their bit to encourage garden waste fly-tipping (though that would probably end up as rather useful compost) I bravely forked out the cash. That was 2 months ago, and still no sign of my bin. I have called up a few times asking as to its whereabouts. Apparently it is a very complex process, sticking a label on a bin, putting it on a van and driving it to my house. So the company entrusted with the job (on a non-negotiable 7 year contract) has fallen a little behind. Amazing how efficient the billing department is of these organisations. If only the rest of them would take note, we might get somewhere.

Speaking of getting somewhere, I feel this post is not. Regardless, onwards I shall speed, blinded by a red fog of ire.

Unable yesterday to see my house from the road, obscured as it was by bin bags of fallen leaves and grass trimmings and less chance of my bin turning up than Lord Lucan, I ventured tip-wards. It's a good 30 minute drive so in the interests of my time and the planet in general I though fewer visits would be the order of the day. So I borrowed the oddly-named Hi-Lux, a half and half car/truck which is anything but luxurious but is certainly roomy in the boot. At the other end of my trip I found the half ork/half human breed who run the tip. A less affable or more charmless breed I have never encountered; bulky men who goose step up and down the site accusing everyone of being contractors disposing of industrial waste without the thought ever entering their minds to help out the 70 year old granny struggling with her old sewing machine. They're down there with the coffee drinkers.

To throw all these leaves away (which the council should have taken in my exorbitantly expensive brown bin), I must get my chit signed. Yup, because my car/truck looks commercial I can only dispose of household waste in it 12 times in 2 years. Oh, but the chap in the much larger Renault Espace next to me can visit as many times as he likes because his car looks more like a car. Good Friday afternoon at Oxfordshire county council that was. Money well spent. I'm beginning to see where fly-tippers are coming from.

So we're not cracking down on commercial waste dumping, just people who put their household waste in larger vehicles to make fewer runs thereby save time, energy, fuel, the planet, money etc. What on earth is the point in this rule? Coming up with that was someone's job. Then they had to pay to print off shiny chits for everyone. Bet that could have paid for my brown bin, wherever it is.

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