There are probably few people who haven't already read about 22-year-old Zoe Watmough from Bolton, who has been ordered by a court to pay £265 because she put her bin out the night before - just like the rest of us.
As reported in the Daily Mirror, the local council insist that residents must put their bins out at 7.30 a.m., surely the first time local officials have dared to dictate when people should get out of bed in the morning. Perhaps they'd care to decide what those people ought to have for breakfast as well?
Needless to say, everyone in the street ignores this officious dictat and puts their bins out the night before. Well, you would, wouldn't you?
But a beady-eyed council officer decided to make an example of Zoe Watmough and gave her a £75 fixed-penalty ticket. And when Zoe, 22, indignantly refused to pay (again, you would, wouldn't you?) she was hauled into court and landed with a fine and costs totalling £265.
Council bosses in Bolton, Greater Manchester, claim arsonists target bins and insist residents put them out at 7.30am on the day of collection. Alison Kelly, prosecuting, said "Horwich and Farnworth are bad areas for people setting fire to bins."
And of course it's quite hard for police and officials to do the obvious thing and catch the little scroats who are setting the fires. It would mean them getting off their arses and taking to the streets, for a start.
Much easier to target a defenceless young mother who's had the temerity to defy your instructions about what time she should get out of bed in the morning, the cheeky mare.
Actually we think the real culprits in this sorry case are not Zoe who was simply behaving normally, like all her neighbours, nor the officials who are just ignorant little jobsworths with an inflated idea of their own importance. The real culprits are the magistrates who listened to the facts and then found her "guilty" and fined her anyway.
Meanwhile in Norwich, 95-year-old war veteran Lenny Woodward got in a muddle and put a ketchup bottle in the wrong bin, so Norwich City Council told him they would no longer collect his rubbish - thus unilaterally deciding not to do the job they're paid for. The GOS wishes he'd thought of this approach when he was a schoolteacher - he could have made his life a lot easier by announcing that he would no longer be teaching 3B on a Friday afternoon because they were too stupid.
In Whitehaven, bus driver Gareth Corkhill, 26, got a criminal record and was fined £210 because his wheelie bin lid was left four inches open. Council officials said "This man is clearly a dangerous and antisocial menace, and it's our job to keep the streets safe from him and others like him". Actually we made that quote up - but you believed it was genuine, didn't you?
On the other hand residents of Rochdale are obedient little soldiers. Just like the local council ordered them to do, they meekly sorted their waste into different bins. And then watched the binmen put all the different items into the same lorry. I expect the council thought they needed something to keep them occupied
In Workington, as reported by the News and Star, a shopkeeper has been fined £300 for putting his vegetable waste on a compost heap.
Colin Glaister, owner of the Fruit and Veg shop on Oxford Street, Allerdale, was fined by Allerdale Borough Council who told him it was illegal to put his vegetables on a compost heap and his cardboard on a household recycling tip.
Mr.Glaister said "The council said it was because the waste had not been disposed of properly. I said 'it's all recycled'. How do you get fined for recycling your rubbish? They told me I was breaking the law and that I was supposed to hire a bin off the council. They will empty the bins once a fortnight. That will cost me about £5 a time. Everyone says you should recycle and do your bit. All my fruit and vegetables go on the garden compost heap - we don't waste them. My uncle takes the cabbages and feeds them to his chickens. I put the potatoes on the compost heap and it goes back into the land. But the council says I am not allowed to do that. When I asked them what would happen to all my rubbish I was told it would all go to the landfill."
A spokesperson for Allerdale Borough Council said it was not the council's intention to fine people. "The idea is to encourage them to think about who they give their waste to and not to simply choose the cheapest option or dump their rubbish," she said. What she meant was that the idea is to force people to do what the council says rather than thinking for themselves. Because the council, of course, is always right. Because it's a council, and that's what councils are for.
An even sillier story from The Telegraph: Craven District Council in Yorkshire have asked residents to empty their own bins because they're a bit heavy for the bin men.
Council officials have asked householders to lift containers - otherwise known as "pods" or "caddy inserts" - for cans and glass out of their bins before routine collections. They claim that the bins are at an "awkward height", making it difficult for binmen to remove the containers without a risk of strain and injury.
Paul Florentine, the council's waste and recycling manager, said "Unfortunately the success of the scheme is having a negative effect on many staff due to the awkward height of the bins and the amount of lifting they have to do during their working day. This health and safety issue has been raised by our corporate safety adviser".
Oh, right, it's elf'n'safety! Oh, that's different. Of course it isn't silly to suggest that elderly residents should do heavy lifting on behalf of the council's employees. After all, if the bin men hurt their backs there might be insurance claims or legal action, and the council still has to pay them when they're sick. But residents - well, they're not the council's responsibility are they?
It's not surprising that local council officials feel able to take such a trenchant approach to coercing members of the public to their will. Civil servants in London set them a pretty clear example.
After Labour's dreadful performance in the local elections it was widely reported that the proposed bin-tax, which would allow local councils to charge the public again for the waste collection they are already paying for in their Council Tax, would be abandoned. It's been no secret that Gordon Brown has been unhappy with this new tax for some time, and newspapers gleefully foretold the scrapping of the scheme.
As the Telegraph reported on 19th April, "The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is understood to have been preparing to unveil the "stealth tax" scheme to MPs on Thursday but the Prime Minister is said to have abandoned the announcement amid fears it would hit Labour's prospects in next year's local government elections. The new taxes could have seen families face bills of up to £250 a year for councils to collect their rubbish.
Mr Brown's intervention followed the publication of Defra's "cynical" consultation on the plans which found that the overwhelming majority of councils wanted the power to introduce the new levy. The Government's consultation study, quietly released on Defra's website, effectively gave ministers the green light to push ahead with the controversial new tax plans."
But things weren't as simple as the Telegraph thought. Only the day before the Daily Express had reported "Labour is secretly drawing up a propaganda campaign to persuade Britons of the benefits of a bin tax. A European manual studied by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reveals how countries including Germany have used "bin spin" to overcome resistance to the 'pay-as-you-throw' tax. But behind the PR campaign, Labour is considering fines of up to £400 to force householders into accepting the charge.
The 'how to' guide includes proposals for youthful bin-tax advisers to visit homes taking giveaway pens, badges and T-shirts bearing a bin-tax logo and slogan. The manual suggests cartoon strips as a way to get the message across, and proposes a media blitz with leaflet drops and newspaper ads. It features a poster of a smiling child alongside information promoting the benefits of "protection of the environment and preservation of resources by reducing waste".
"PR will be needed to educate citizens," the manual declares. But it suggests hiring rubbish police to rifle through dumped bags to identify people fly-tipping - a practice it says will rise as a result of the tax. It cites an army of snoopers hired in the German town of Brixen. And it says that in the "disciplining of citizens" fines of up to £400 should be imposed on those not following the rules. The handbook explains how every bin and family will be given an identification code to be scanned by equipment on rubbish trucks."
So, on one side Gordon Brown, on the other the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). And who wears the trousers?
Well, clearly Defra think they do.
The Independent wrote: "Despite Downing Street briefing newspapers that Mr Brown was determined to block the introduction of schemes across England, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) insisted that pilot projects were still going ahead.
Plans for what critics describe as a "bin tax" descended into chaos last September when Downing Street stepped in at the last possible moment to block an announcement giving the idea a full green light. Proposals to allow pilot schemes to go ahead were later a surprise inclusion in a Climate Change Bill.
And a Defra spokeswoman insisted yesterday the trials were still going ahead, regardless of Downing Street's apparently implacable opposition.
"Five local authorities will next year be undertaking pilot schemes to create incentives for recycling," she said. "We will evaluate the impact of those pilots before making a final decision on whether other local authorities can introduce similar schemes."
Did you spot the little bomb near the end of that statement? "We will evaluate before making a final decision "
You have to wonder, don't you? Who the hell is running this country - Gordon Brown or the mandarins at Defra? And what are the chances of either side (a) telling the truth for once, or (b) taking any notice of the opinions of the voters?
Oh, I forgot. The EU wants citizens "disciplined".
The GOS says: If you want to know in just how much contempt you are held by politicians of the Left and government officials, just hear how the debate went in Ireland. They introduced their bin taxes long ago, in the face of ferocious opposition. Here is Senator John Minihan of Cork Council, speaking in 2003
"Bin tax protests failed in Dublin, they will fail in Cork". Progressive Democrats Senator John Minihan issued a strong warning to Householders Against Service Charges (HASC) to learn from the mistakes of protestors in Dublin and realise that their campaign is futile. "From November 17th, a sticker system will be introduced by Cork City Council" he said, "and any untagged bin will not be collected. No amount of protest or political posturing will change that fact. Bin charges are a necessary component of our waste management strategy. There will be no roll-back, no compromise. The Householders Against Service Charges know this, organising public meetings in the city is simply a waste of time. I believe the majority of people are tired of the empty rhetoric and posturing. Let the HASC protest if they wish, it won't make any difference."
Well, there you have it. That's the way it'll be. Resistance is futile. Hδnde hoch, Englischer pig-dogs!
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