Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Thoughts among the dustbins
When I was a councillor we voted each year on the charges for collecting commercial refuse.
Inevitably, one of the older Tories or Independents would get up to say how unfair it was that businesses had to pay for collection twice. They had to pay business rates and then pay the council’s charges.
This objection was always brushed aside. Councils just didn’t work like that and, besides, we needed the money.
But at the back of my mind was an sense of disquiet. Didn’t the old councillor have a point? If businesses had paid their local taxes, shouldn’t local government services be free?
I thought of these doubts when the Conservative-run Harborough District Council brought in charges for collecting garden waste.
Residents had paid their Council Tax but were now being charged a second time for services.
Yes, council finances are under pressure, but then Harborough Tories cut the Council Tax just before the last council elections. So they can hardly if they are short of money now.
I suppose the moral is that that if you see injustice being done, you should speak out. You may be the victim of it one day.
I also remember the debate when we voted to bring wheelie bins to the district.
A Conservative woman councillor said that until now the dustmen had come to the back door of houses to collect the bins.
Now residents would be responsible for bringing their bins through to the front of their properties.
Who would have to do this? The woman of the house.
She was right too.
This is another example of the McDonaldisation thesis. Bringing in commercial operators does not boost our freedom. It requires us to behave in tightly circumscribed ways.