Our correspondent S***** P*********** sends this story about Crawley Borough Council …
Barbara Jubb, aged 57, was waiting at a bus stop with her 20 month old granddaughter Emily, who was eating a packet of Quavers. Now, children of that age generally don't have a very good grip, and they slipped from her fingers and landed on the pavement.
Barbara promptly picked up the packet and kicked the two Quavers that had spilled out onto the pavement into the gutter. No doubt something would eat them - a pigeon, probably.
But this action landed her with an £80 fine. People were standing round listening and laughing - they couldn't believe it. Maybe they were expecting Jeremy Beadle to appear, who knows? But the two ladies who approached her with clipboards couldn't have been more serious. One produced a card and said "We are from the council and I'm going to fine you for littering"'. Yes, you've guessed it - Council Litterwardens.
Barbara didn't realise till she got on the bus just what had happened. Her daughter who was with her couldn't believe it either, and said "I think they are targeting vulnerable people".
A spokesman for the council said "People leaving their rubbish behind or dropping litter anywhere other than in a bin is totally unacceptable."
However, somebody had some sense, as the fine was waived because of "Exceptional Circumstances".
This story raises a number of points ...
Councils just bully people. On this occasion someone stood up to them and they backed down, but how many people would just have paid up?
We just let them do it. Did none of the onlookers have the guts to step in and tell these two women where to get off? We'd all like to think we'd intervene if the occasion arose, but the fact is - no-one did. And really, would we?
Again, these little gauleiters wander round in pairs. What are they scared of? The obvious answer is that they know full well that what they are doing is both unreasonable and unpopular.
The GOS says: This spokeswally for the council who said "People leaving their rubbish behind or dropping litter anywhere other than in a bin is totally unacceptable". In the unlikely event that he ever reads this (and I doubt if he will - you don't work for a local council if you have a sense of humour) I'd like to ask him … who says?
Who says it's totally unacceptable? Has there been mass lobbying by crowds of residents at the council offices, thumping their fists and saying "Kill the litter-droppers!"? Has every resident in Crawley been sent a questionnaire that says "Dropping litter is totally unacceptable - do you (a) strongly agree, (b) agree, (c) disagree, (d) strongly disagree, (e) couldn't give a toss"?
Of course not. It's just you, isn't it, taking up this macho posture. It makes you feel like Sylvester Stallone or Vin Diesel, doesn't it, being so firm and granite-jawed? And what a thrill for you narrow-chested little nonentity, the feeling that you're allowed to throw your weight around like this! It makes you feel just so important, doesn't it? I bet it's better than sex.
Not that I'd remember, of course …
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