Thursday, June 18, 2009


It's not often that I give house room to the Daily Mail. My attention has been drawn to its latest campaign by a party member in Darlington, who thoroughly approves of its campaign against the introduction of wheelie bins.

The cause celebre at the moment appears to be their intrusion into Henley-on-Thames, which I'm guessing (because the Mail doesn't tell us) is a Tory-run council. Today's edition has a fresh update on their campaign, with some lurid pictures from round the country of streets and front gardens containing wheelie bins and, well, not a lot else.

Wheelie bins or black plastic sacks? It's a debate that clearly divides Middle England (as the comments accompanying the article makes clear) but it is a fact that wheelie bins are especially unpopular in terraced streets with limited yard or garden space. It was a complaint I heard several times during the European campaign. For sure, black sacks can be targetted by foxes and crows, but they are much easy to store in advance of bin day.

Leaving aside the Mail's permanent Euro-hysteria (blaming their introduction on EC waste targets) it is a fact that councils who embark on the wheelie bin adventure seem to end up forcing residents to have smalled bins (to minimise waste) and then fining people for placing the wrong rubbish in the variously-coloured bins.

Labour In Darlington has never seen the need for wheelie bins to be introduced, and indeed now our new waste contract can deal admirably with black bags. I'm not aware of any public upswelling of support for them. It would appear from the ConservativeHome website that the Tories are falling into line with the Mail's campaign, and all of a sudden are also against them. Which only leaves local LibDems as the wheelie bins' friends - in their last manifesto they wanted households to have at least 3!

We'll see how this issue plays out in the coming months...


david walsh said...

As osmeone livign in a terrace in rural fringe East Cleveland i bless the wheelie bin Stray dogs and feral foxes saw black bin bags as potential lunch cartons and treated them accordingly. High winds were also a perennial nuisance. Perhaps the fooxes of Henly are more refined in their epicrean tatstes ?

Aeres said...

Never personally liked wheelie bins since we were burgled as students in Manchester.

When the police came around they asked us if our wheelie bin had also been taken (it had). We were then cheerfully informed that burglars routinely used them as convenient and portable storage for their loot.

No idea whether they were exaggerating somewhat, but I've been happy to stick to black bags ever since.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

I would be prepared to have a wheelie bin, only one, and at no cost to me. The black bags on our estate, which is on the edge of Darlington, are regularly opened by the crows, cats and foxes and you should see the mess they leave behind.

I do acknowledge that wheelie bins are not suitable for terraced properties which have steps to the back and front door and with narrow pathways.

My big bug bear is packaging of foodstuffs. Can anything be done to reduce unnecessary packaging?

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Sorry I meant to state that the animals get into the black bin bags when they are put out on bin collection days.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab again.....


One more point. Forgive me for saying so, but I think you might be taking a short sighted view on wheelie bins.

Of course there are pros and cons, but perhaps you should ask the public to decide if they want wheelie bins or not.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, everyone.

Aeres - thanks for your point. You've reminded me that in addition, they're so-and-sos to clean, and that Fire Services often take a very dim view of them - they are easily set alight, and are the source of a lot of "secondary fires".

Alan & David - yes, some animals can make a mess, but there are precautions that householders can take - wherever possible putting out the black bags as close to collection time as possible, for example.

As for asking the people to decide between wheelie bins and black bags - well, I'm always reluctant to enter into consultation where it isn't genuinely necessary. I've never detected any popular demand for wheelie bins, Alan - you are only the second resident in Haughton West to tell me you want one - and the national mood seems to be running strongly against them. I'm not sure a big consultation exercise would be a great use of taxpayers' money.

And whilst I appreciate that you only want one wheelie bin, that simply wouldn't be the deal that would be on offer - your own party's manifesto at the last local elections promised at least 3, and there are a few campaigners in the town who think that residents should have loads more - up to 7!

The new waste contract in Darlington will see a big step change in our recycling record without us having to resort to unpopular innovations like wheelie bins. I think that's a positive result.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.....

Thanks Nick. Sorry to come back, as you know we currently have three household disposal bags, blue sacks and green boxes.

Having a wheelie bin instead of black bags would give huseholders more secure storage for their rubbish and would cut down the heavy manual handling both by householders and the bin people. For the bin people they would simply have to wheel the bins from the kerb to the back of the lorry attach it to the harness, operate a switch and the mechanism does the rest.

Having stated all this some places in Darlington are unsuitable for wheelie bins.

Have you compared the cost to the taxpayers of the current disposal scheme compared with wheelie bins?

I take your point about putting the rubbish out close to the time when the bin people come, but the black bags can stand outside the house for hours before they are collected by which time all creatures great and small have entered them.

Testing public opinion doesn't have to cost the earth. Why not put a questionnaire in the Town Crier?

Ian W said...

2 things firstly from what I have seen wheelie bins take longer to empty than simply throwing a sack into a truck, That said we do suffer from animals out here too and tend to keep bags in the porch till "Bin Day" fine in winter nasty in summer as its mostly glass.

So providing there was only one and it was the larger size not a shoe box on wheels I could become a convert.

However my worry regardless of who gets power at the next election is the introduction of "Chip and Bin" which has been tried around the country.

I would fight this all the way and would only be satisfied if the council upon adopting this scheme were to "promise" not ot introduce the "chip and bin" pay per weight method as this will only increase fly tipping etc.

I personally do not believe that any council would ever make this promise and for that reason I see the introduction of wheelie bins as just another step to "bin tax"

Promises are fine, I remember one such promise....Hurworth (school) won't close but some soon tried as "times had moved on/changed".

I like Alan would like to see some figures and an assurance of never getting "bin taxed" before I could embrace this idea fully.

miketually said...

Interestingly, the Daily Mail poll on this issue has a majority (56%) in favour of not scrapping wheelie bins at the moment. Could it be that the Silent Majority that the Mail keeps going on about are actually a Gobby Minority?

Nick, unless I was the first Haughton West resident to ask for wheelie bins, you can put me down as a third. Cats, magpies, crows and seagulls are the current bag-opening culprits on the 'Hills' estate.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Ian I am totally opposed to 'chip and bin' taxation. We already pay for refuse collection and disposal as part of our Council Tax. Chip and bin would be an addtional tax which we can do without.

Mike I forgot about the magpies. They are as bad as the crows.

Anonymous said...

Just been to the Conservative home page linked above, what an unfortunate person they have picked to front it......

Cllr. Phibbs

I thought they all did ;)