It is not uncommon for a politician to be accused of talking rubbish, but today I genuinely do want to talk trash.
As we face this coronavirus crisis together, our hearts have been warmed by the recent stories of people across our town leaving nice messages of support for the men and women who collect our bins.
A bit like pulling an obscure muscle in your leg while getting up from the sofa too quickly, bin collection services are not always noticed until there’s a problem. Those with good memories will remember the 1979 dustmen strikes when mounds of rubbish piled up in the streets and images of London’s Leicester Square covered in rubbish sent shockwaves across a disgusted and suddenly smelly nation.
Thanks to the superb operational team at our district council and, of course, our tireless key worker waste disposal staff, our bins are being collected as normal at this time. However, at a time when we all have to stay indoors, inevitably there is a temptation to have a clear out or to sort out that backyard weed patch. While completely understandable, this will inevitably have implications for our waste collection services at a time when staff numbers may be reduced owing to illness or self-isolation.
Even without a crisis, we the British people produce on average a staggering one tonne of rubbish per household each and every year. Nationally, the work of collecting, sorting and processing this waste requires a workforce of 107,000. And that’s just the rubbish disposed of responsibly.
What is most concerning and disappointing is the rapid rise in fly-tipping cases during this crisis. The Countryside Alliance report that incidents are up over 300% in some areas as the thoughtless few who dump their items on farmland or on the sides of our roads.
Last year 62% of fly-tips involved household waste; just ask Neil McIvor and the Pride of Stamford Litter Pickers who for the past five years have filled bags with rubbish recklessly thrown across our fields and pavements.
This crisis is rubbish enough without more strain and more stress placed on our waste collection teams so please, delay that spring-clean and think twice about how you dispose of your waste.