Thursday, June 05, 2008

A nation of serfs

Remember the seventies?

If you are as old as me you probably do and, if you're around the same age and the seventies coincided with your teens you probably enjoyed them as much as I did. The misery guts among us will tell you they were a time of hell - football hooliganism, high inflation, power cuts, strikes, wage restrictions, union power and so on - but that doesn't tell the whole story.

Despite all the problems there were still certain things that could be relied on. The milkman would deliver your milk while you were still asleep and the postman and paper boy would deliver the post and newspaper before breakfast.

Less obvious but even more useful was that the binmen would turn up every week, collect your bin from wherever you left it, empty it and return it without bothering you.

Not now.

Mrs Kay's local council has other ideas.

It wants her to drag a 360-litre wheelie bin more than half a mile down a steep hill for it to be emptied.

When she protested, the council's 'compromise' was that she leave the bin behind and lug the rubbish sacks down the hill instead.

Mrs Kay is 80.

The service comes into force next month. It is part of a cost-cutting drive by Ribble Valley Council in Lancashire under which it has declared that it is no longer prepared to send its lorries down 'long and difficult tracks'.

They call that a "service"? Who is serving who exactly? It's not up to the council where they send their lorries. They are not even "their" lorries! They are either private contractors or they belong to the local council only on the authority of the people they are supposed to serve - in other words they are our lorries.

As part of the scheme, Mrs Kay's neighbours Harry and Jane Johnston have been told they must share communal bins with a family two miles away. This family has to drive to their house and drop off the rubbish - which then has to be taken to the end of the lane.

So some families don't even get a bin of their own - they have to drive somewhere else to deposit their rubbish. What madman came up with that idea?

Graham Jagger, of Ribble council, said: 'If the bins are left at the end of a lane, householders can drop their waste in when they are passing. We hope people will do that rather than everyone having their own bins.'

They probably will mate. Only they will dump their sacks of garbage wherever it takes their fancy - it's called "fly tipping".

This next bit is the trump card, though.

He added: 'We are informing people where we want to pick up their waste."

You see? They do not see themselves as servants of the people any more. We are there to serve them.

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