Tag Archives: Waste

A little story about waste.

It’s the war cry of the left – our public services are underfunded, undermanned and overstretched. Do try not to giggle on the right… it’s a perpetual and entirely circular argument: the more money they get the more people they get, the more people they get, the less hours they work, the less hours they work the less productive they become, the less productive they become the more they moan, the more the moan the more non-jobs are created to keep them happy and overpaid, which eventually someone has to pay for.

And that someone, is you.

So let me tell you a story about a farce I watched unfold today on the streets of the borough which lends its name to the palace that the people that spend your money fill out their expense forms in.

I was perched by a window today, working hard to pay my bills, wages, taxes and so on, looking out over Wardour Street in Soho in the grandly titled City of Westminster, just below my perch is a public bin, next to said bin at some point earlier in the day someone had deposited three white bin bags and some cardboard, neatly propped up against the bin, not spilling out into the road or obscuring the pavement… overall not particularly pleasant to dump your rubbish on the pavement, but in Soho there’s very few other places you can put it and they’d made the best job of wrapping it up and putting it out.

But this breaks several rules – the first being that it’s not using the Westminster business bin bags, these ludicrously thin bags are available in rolls which cost £50 a go, that works out to about £1 per bag – that’s if you can get the bag out of your premises without it splitting requiring yet another. Second even once you’ve paid for your bags you have to put the rubbish out in certain windows, these last for only 90 minutes and on average most streets get two collections a day to cope with the detritus that this tourist hub creates, and failure to observe said rubbish curfew results in fines of several hundred to several thousand pounds.

To police this policy, the council employ enforcement officers, lord knows how many, but there seem to be one for just about everything, noise, sex shops, rubbish, traffic, parking, street works, you name it, there’s a council employee – clip board in hand – waiting to enforce it.

So it came as no surprise that later in the afternoon a portly looking lady came along, said clipboard grasped firmly, kicked the rubbish a bit, took some photos, made some calls then off she went. I thought, well some poor sods going to get a fine and that rubbish will be gone at the next collection… but oh no, the next collection came and went, leaving said rubbish leaking out onto the street now it had been given a bit of a kick. Then along came the same woman to take more photos of it – presumably to ‘prove’ how long it had been sat on the street for making our environment unpleasant. Surely now someone will remove it? Another collection van scoots by, empties the public bin but leaves the rubbish in the now sodden from a downpour street – then along comes a new man, who looks at the rubbish, cocks his head from side to side , scribbles something and wanders off. Then another: this time bolder, accompanied by the woman, this chap is clearly on the look out for evidence, so in he plunges – no gloves, no awareness of sharps, no health and safety – straight into the bin, rummaging he drags out a discarded office catalogue notes the address it’s been sent to and throws it back on the now totally sodden, disheveled leaking rubbish pile – surely now the bin men will remove it? Someone will pop around any minute with a cage van to get rid of it.

Well.

No.

In fact it was still there when I left at quarter to seven having been there for the all of the afternoon. I counted no less than 4 people  from the council in one form or another who could have arranged for it to be binned: I saw 5 bin lorries pass by collecting rubbish who all ignored it. And there it sits, probably still – leaking into the street, spilling across the pavement, a health and trip hazard for all.

It’s exactly this sort of waste that has to stop: we don’t need hundreds of enforcement officers, with the money you save sacking them you could afford to just pick up the rubbish to make our streets clean.

For gods sake can someone in our Government both national and local have the balls to take a stand and say that ‘we’ the government are going to spend more of your money on the services you need and less on trying to fine you for every infringement of every rule we care to make up to justify employing hundreds of entirely sundry staff.

Turning the tide of waste…

The first cut is the deepest, or at least that’s how the song goes – clearly the coalition haven’t listened to much Rod Stewart (or if we’re being picky Cat Stevens), because the first cuts made to public spending have been a little shallower than we might have expected. It’s great news of course that schemes to create jobs have been cut (as the reality of those schemes is many of the jobs ended up being public sector), it’s superb, and humanising, news that the Ministerial car pool is being shelved, and even better news that the frankly ludicrous child trust fund has been axed.

But amongst the many cuts announced this week you couldn’t help but feel that this was simply a prelude: the ’emergency’ (in all senses of the word) budget being where the sharpness of the axe really will be felt. I applaud the immediate cuts, but I’m mindful that in many cases these were the easy ones – the government has a really messy job ahead of it, because it isn’t just going to be expected to make cuts: it’s going to be expected to change whole sections of society’s outlook away from it being the Government’s core job to provide employment.

You see, the problem with all Labour governments is that they have all historically mixed up private and public sector, it doesn’t matter which one you’re in, so long as you’re working – except that’s economic nonsense: public sector jobs don’t generate wealth or tax revenue. While this is perfectly acceptable for core essential services (security, defence, health and teaching) it’s totally ludicrous anywhere else. Under New Labour the public sector exploded; whole towns and cities where unemployment was traditionally an issue suddenly found themselves awash with work opportunities – all paid for by the tax payer, and all – ultimately – doomed to be unaffordable.

This is the attitude we’re going to have to change, the coalition is going to have to make people understand that jobs created by government don’t raise tax revenue – they’re subsidised jobs paid for by an ever shrinking group of entrepreneurs and business owners and the people who work for them, the people by and large who have smaller pensions, work longer hours, have less holiday and less job security. There is something horrifically unfair about this – Labour perpetuated that it was all for the ‘fairer’ society – but it failed to do this miserably by creating a society where a huge proportion of the jobs were paid for by mugging Peter to pay Paul.

You can browse the Grauniad or any number of local authority websites to find the dredges of this era of profligacy at the private sector’s expense: Community street football advisors, Gypsy & Traveller Liaison Officer, Biodiversity awareness officers, vast numbers of ‘communications’ and ‘pr’ advisors – the list is as bizarre as it is endless; these non-jobs (as highlighted by the TPA) are a fallacy, and it’s going to take a long time to convince people that this society can do without endless state-sponsored jobs, and even longer to convince people that they can (in many cases) create their own wealth, start their own businesses, and most importantly that you can thrive in the private sector if you’re willing to throw away the unaffordable perks of being paid by the public purse.