Which Tory minister do you think is Talking Rubbish most? Spelman, Pickles or Neill?

Friends of the Earth is inviting the public to help decide the winner of its Talking Rubbish Award to help debunk the myths peddled by right-wing newspapers and some Tory ministers who ‘like to trash recycling’. The three nominees are as follows:

    The myth: Recycling means everyone is terrified of the ‘bin police’
    “The iron fist of the municipal state has come down on people for the most minor of bin breaches.” Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary

    The reality:
    Mr Pickles – and some noisy media commentators – give the impression that people live in fear of the ‘bin police’. In reality, studies show that 80 per cent of us are happy with our waste provision.

    The myth: Tyranical bin taxes are being scrapped by the Government
    “Rather than punishing struggling families with new taxes and fines, we will be supporting innovative schemes.” Caroline Spelman, Environment Secretary

    The reality:
    The Coalition Government likes to brag about scrapping bin taxes. But in reality we still pay tax for our rubbish to be collected through council tax. Charges for waste collection have been shown to be capable of increasing recycling up to 40 per cent. In the long term that’ll mean lower council tax for everyone. Only the super-wasteful will carry the burden for what they chuck – not struggling families.

    The myth: Rotting food is piling up in our homes
    “Fortnightly bin collections are a naked cut to frontline services and lead to problems with vermin, bin smells and fly-tipping.” Bob Neill, Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

    The reality:
    We’d actually free up money for better weekly food collections and recycling services if we got rid of expensive weekly collections of all our rubbish. So food waste would go just as quickly.

You can vote here, and find out more about Friends of the Earth’s campaign here.

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8 Comments

  • Reread your post and try to understand why people have such a low opinion of local government. “In reality we still pay tax for our rubbish to be collected through council tax.” Yes we do and we were paying before. “Charges for waste collection have been shown to be capable of increasing recycling up to 40 per cent.” We were already paying – you just said so yourself.

    There is nothing like British local government in the world and I don’t mean that in a good way. It takes money to provide services. Then it decides it can’t be bothered and fancies charging again. So it does and it tells us that the first time we paid doesn’t count.

    As for surveys of what people think about it. Yes we get those surveys, expensively drawn up by PR companies (who they’re paying despite the fact that they employ hundreds in their own PR depts). The questions are normally along the lines of “Do you think the council’s services are A) perfect B) utterly marvelous or C) quite incredibly good please take all my house and possession to make them better and while you’re at it have my children only you are good enough to bring them up.”

    All this comes out of organisations which routinely pay their grotesquely incompetent chief executives hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. People live this. We know what councils do. They take more and more money and do less and less with it.

  • Geoffrey Payne – what?
    I’m all in favour of STV, but how you arrive at the idea that local government needs MORE powers is a mystery. The hoary old ‘well you can always stand yourself’ argument really won’t do. Where I live the parish council hasn’t had an election for years. That’s because people aren’t interested. They don’t want it. It is simply a self appointed body, which raises a large sum of money, which has been imposed from outside. It couldn’t abolish itself if it wanted to by the way, but it doesn’t. All it does is enable a tiny minority to impose their prejudices on the rest of us. And spend money taken from the rest of us to do it.

    My life and that of my children would be so much better if we didn’t have local government. Imagine a world where schools had to work to proper nationally set standards, instead of being set up to suit those with a vested interest in the system. Imagine a fair planning system with access for all, instead of a carve up between those with an eye to their own profit. Imagine having bins emptied and roads mended efficiently without the need to support a vast self-serving bureaucracy.

    Name a single councillor, anywhere, who’s been elected by the majority of the electorate.

  • daft ha'p'orth 9th Apr '11 - 2:53pm

    Q. “Fortnightly bin collections are a naked cut to frontline services and lead to problems with vermin, bin smells and fly-tipping.”
    A. “We’d actually free up money for better weekly food collections and recycling services if we got rid of expensive weekly collections of all our rubbish. So food waste would go just as quickly.”

    “Better weekly food collections”? Sure, that’ll happen. Dismissive smug hypotheticals won’t make the rats go away…

    To quote the very same Caroline Spelman MP of the £40,000 cleaners’ bill, way back in 2008 and in opposition, “Labour’s cuts to bin collection, driven by Whitehall bureaucrats, are harming the local environment and public health. The increasing problems with rats and mice are a direct consequence of the Government’s bin bully policies, reducing the frequency and size of bin collections. As council tax soars for yet another year, yet more local services are being cut thanks to Gordon Brown to the detriment of local neighbourhoods.”

    There is evidence that the rat problem is serious, and made worse by under-reporting. Refuse collection cuts have created optimal conditions for the problem, and some areas have cut pest control too – ie. they charge for the service. To quote the NPTA:

    “The benchmark annual report published this week (Thursday March 17) shows the largest yearly fall in recorded local authority rat and mouse treatments since the survey was instituted in 1999. At the same time, it reveals much of this decline results from changes in charging practice rather than any decline in infestation levels.”

    In other words, the place is still bulging with rats, as shown in previous years’ NPTA surveys, but we’ve decided that all we can afford to do is to ignore them and the conditions on which they are thriving, in the hope that someone else pays to make them go away. This is counter-productive and ignores the mathematics of the situation entirely – rats reproduce quickly and are developing immunity to pest control poisons – but it’s no surprise that public health is another of those things that govt in the UK, regardless of political stripe, cannot implement effectively.

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