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The "Do What You Like" philosophy
of local government

If you live in the area serviced by Blackburn with Darwen Council, Lancs., and you see suspicious characters creeping about in your garden, don't phone the police. It's only the council's Bin Gestapo spying on the customers with intent to confiscate any illegal bins.

Straight up! The council even issues the Bin Gestapo with ladders so that they can peer over walls and, if they see that someone has more than one black bin for non-recyclable waste, they storm the premises and stroll off with the illegal surplus bin(s).

The council has called a temporary halt to the spy force following complaints, and it is hiding behind the 'not me, Gov!' defence of over-zealous sub-contractors. But there is a certain petulant note in the council's explanation about the need to make sure that people have only one bin – the usual guff about landfill costs (artificially inflated by the EU) and the need to recycle more (itself, another scam).

But the fact remains, the culture of 'jobsworth invulnerability' under New Labour is such that this council's hirelings feel entitled to behave like peeping toms, and assume they are not subject to the laws on trespass – something which would lead to arrest and punishment under an honest government.

And it's a good bet that the Bin Gestapo will be back in action when the dust has died down a little.

Another Stealth Tax in the making

Joan Ruddock, the Waste Minister, has confirmed that anyone who puts an item in the wrong street recycling bin will be liable to a spot fine of £110.

Deliberate disposal of rubbish in the wrong bin will constitute an offence once street litter bins have been replaced by groups of recycling bins as part of the government's 'Recyle-On-The-Go' scheme. The fines will be issued by the local council's Bin Gestapo and, no doubt, the courts will be liberal in the favour of the council when considering how 'deliberate' a mistake was if someone has the temerity to challenge a fine.

When new recycling legislation was on its way through Parliament, spin doctors for the Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs attempted to laugh at any suggestions that the Bin Gestapo would have any power to enforce the rules. Now, the Waste Minister has confirmed (in a Parliamentary written answer) that the spin doctors were bending the truth, as usual.

So the effect of this brilliant scheme will be to ensure that less waste is recycled because no one in his/her right mind will go near a street recycling bin for fear of being mugged with a fine. How very New Labour!

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