Richard's Retirement Blog

Winter at home

January 2011

Click on any photo for a larger version

Update, 18th January - Today, the compound has been tidied and the ashes, rubble and litter removed. My thanks for that, at least.


10th January: Seven years ago, our Local Authority decided, without notice, not to collect our rubbish from our flats, but to make us carry it down to big, ugly, smelly communal bins. At first they gave no reason, but under pressure, they cited Health and Safety.

My first point, which was made at the time withour getting a sensible reply, is that it cannot be appropriate to take a risky activity out of the hands of paid and trained personnel and make the public at large do it.

Then, they promised us "consultation" - which after some time, turned out to mean, "We'll meet you, but only to tell you that this is how it's going to be. Live with it." So - after the bins had suffered vandalism and arson more than once - we pressed for at least a proper compound to keep them out of the way and out of sight. This we were promised, but over years, nothing has happened. Until last December, when a concrete raft appeared at the bottom of the steps leading up to the upper flats. The bins were placed on it, and duly suffered arson not once but twice more over Christmas.

The reaction to that, was to write to the residents telling them to take proper precautions!

However, the raft grew a fence, and so, at last, we've got a proper bin compound - but not what we were promised. It's nothing more than a wire cage, and will neither screen the bins from sight, nor contain the smell (not an issue now, but in an August heatwave ...), nor keep out the cats (and rats? and foxes?) that forage in the bins when they are over-full and scatter the contents abroad. It's placed where every resident and any visitor must walk immediately past it; it's ugly; and neither the results of the arson nor the rubble of the building of it have been removed.

Furthermore, there are still only four bins (and two in another place) for some sixty households. Every week the bins are overflowing when emptied, and over Christmas, the combination of the greater amount of waste and the weather-induced difficulties of collection led to there being bags stacked everywhere ... and the cats etc. had a field day, of course. I was away, and when I came back on New Year's Eve I was appalled.

Even when the bins and bags were collected, a mess was left behind, and litter scattered all over the compound and left to blow along the footpath. That's when I lost my cool and went for my camera.

I have asked, and I ask again, addressing the question to our elected coucillors and the Authority's decision-makers: "Would you like this outside your front door?" So far, only one answer - evasive, and implying that I ought to be grateful for all my lovely council does for me. Now, I personally was promised by an officer of the council, in their office, that there would be a bin compound to keep the bins out of site; and I would feel much more grateful if they were to keep that promise. (I'd feel still more grateful if they'd collect my rubbish from my home once again, like they do for all except a limited number of the poorest homes in the borough; but it seems we're not entitled to that, somehow.)

Would you like this outside your front door?

Well ... I did say there might be the odd rant.

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