Monday 16 January 2006 3.50pm
Now lets get one thing straight, I am a big supporter of Southwark Council
. Not because I think that they are brilliant, far from it, but they are the only Council we have so given the choice between slagging them off and encouraging them, I prefer to support and encourage. On top of that, as some of you may know, I spent three years working for Southwark Council
and I know at first hand just how depressing it is to have some dim-bulb phone you up to dump their ignorant prejudice all over you. Its not pretty and its not pleasant. So there you have it, I live in SE1, pay my Council Tax here and vote here. And on top of that, I've worked for the Council so I can see things from both sides and thats what makes it difficult when I consider the New Fascism of rubbish.
I've lived in Tanner Street
for the better part of 18 years and for at least the first half of that period the local garbage collection was pretty good. It became less reliable around the late 1990s but its really fallen apart in the last couple of years. The real decline started with the introduction of the new logo and corporate identity along with the jolly mesh backed vans. The fact that the collections have become unreliable is bad enough but now we have the New Fascistas, the environmental inspectors, who troll around the area looking for what they term as abandonned rubbish. They go through it, find an address and apply a fixed penalty notice to the person they believe to be the owner of the rubbish.
This happened to us a couple of years ago when the refuse service picked up our rubbish and then dropped the bag on Tower Bridge Road
. The New Fascistas found the bag, went through it, found our address and served a Penalty Notice. I told them to shove it and it remains unpaid to this day. But thats not the point. What gets me is that the new regime has further extended its remit and goes through rubbish bags looking for work related mail then accuse the owner of disposing of commercial waste in a domestic collection. And of course serves another Penalty Notice.
Now forgive me for pointing this out but after years of decay in the north of the borough the Council introduced live/work planning consents which were specifically intended to encourage people to work from home. Live/work doesn't contribute Business Rates as its seen as subsidiary to the residential use. So how come, if you work from home and don't pay business rates you suddenly need to have a commercial contract for rubbish collection. What happens if you are a teacher, taking your marking home and you chuck some of the paperwork in the bin? Does that attract a Penalty Notice as well?
I wouldn't mind if this new rubbish attitude translated into cleaner pavements but it doesn't. On Bermondsey St people put their bins out almost every day. There doesn't seem to be any structure to the collection service and there doesn't seem to be any coherent information about it so people put their rubbish out when its convenient. At the same time, the Fascistas are walking round lecturing businesses (who divvy up humungous Business Rates) and residents on how they should dispose of their rubbish.
I'm beginning to wonder if Southwark have recognised garbage as just another revenue stream. Forget about the environment, forget about recycling, forget about Council Tax and Business Rates, just grab the money on any spurious justification. And I doubt that Southwark are alone.