Howard Croft column: Will ‘Wheelie-bin-gate’ be an election issue?

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My recent piece on Ryedale Council’s ethically deplorable and legally questionable “subscription” scheme for the collection of garden waste from brown bins provoked a lively response. One of my spies, using what I suspect was a voice-altering telephone, told me of an informal conversation that he had with a Member of the Council. What he was told was as follows.

In 2015 Ryedale residents who “subscribed” in 2014 will be invited to renew their subscriptions, but at a higher price – in excess of £30 for a year (i.e. seven months). Those who did not join “the scheme” will be given a second and final 
opportunity to do so. Thereafter, all brown wheelies at homes where the residents do not cough up will be removed, never to be 
returned. Where will they be taken to, and at what cost, is not known. Probably not stored as warehousing on a scale adequate to mothball thousands (exactly how many is not known) is not available, but more likely they will be destroyed. By what method is also an unknown, but probably by incineration. How climate friendly is that?

What happens if new residents arrive at the home previously occupied by a refusenik and finds that there is no bin to use, how will they go on? They will be allowed to subscribe, but they will have to purchase from the Council a new brown wheelie; cost not known, but they will be supplied to order, a recipe for high unit costs.

My spy tells me that he is a refusenik himself and that he now bags up his garden rubbish and stores it in his wheelie bin until it is full, then transfers the bags to his car and takes it to the tip. This is better, he tells me, than having black bags lying about. A sensible approach, you might think.

Why not leave well alone and allow the bins to remain at the homes of the hold-outs, unless they ask the Council to remove what is after all, Council property. No transport and incineration costs (unknown, but likely to be substantial), and it leaves residents with a useful receptacle for making their private arrangements.

My suspicion is that the Council will be reluctant to go down this route, fearing perhaps that residents will make unapproved use of the wheelies – brewing home-made beer, possibly, or for conversion to water butts. Even, though I don’t approve, using them for confining infants as a punishment for minor infractions at the dinner table.

Perhaps this issue will feature in next year’s Council elections; let us call it “Wheelie-bin-gate”. I do hope so. And speaking of next year’s elections, activity has already started. Several grey suits have approached me to ask if I shall be standing for high office myself, as I so unsuccessfully did in 2011, one even finding his way into my kitchen. I threw a bed sheet over my brown wheelie and apologised for the overwhelming smell of yeast, explaining that Mrs Croft has a voracious appetite for bread.

It is not clear why the big beasts (so they say) in the political jungle are heading my way. It may be that they fear me, suspecting that my high profile as a newspaper columnist will attract a tsunami of votes and sweep them from power. It is certainly the case that many of my readers approve of my views.

Only a week or so ago I was mobbed at Malton railway station by three such people, one of them asserting that “you are always right”, not words I hear coming from Mrs Croft’s lips on a daily basis. As for the rumour, which I have heard from several people claiming to have ears to the ground, that I intend to stand against Linda Cow-ling, and that I have backing me in that endeavour a small group of powerful 
political figures who are lurking in the shadows and are ready to strike, as for that I couldn’t possibly comment.

Incidentally, my offer to advise the Council of the legality and ethics of casual subscription selling has not been taken up. Perhaps heavy-weight silks are being briefed and consulted instead even as I write. An expensive approach to their problem (if they see that they have one), but then money is no object when the voters’ pockets can so easily be picked.