Some cold facts behind the media storm surrounding wheelie bin
Last updated at 10:59, Thursday, 01 May 2008
SIR – We would like to take this opportunity to clarify some of the issues regarding our recent waste prosecution, which has been the subject of much media coverage.
Before wheeled bins were introduced, residents were issued with information about the change, how to manage their waste and how to contain waste in their bin.
In May 2007 Mr and Mrs Corkhill contacted us because they were unable to contain their waste in a standard (240 litre) bin. As a result we gave the family, a larger bin – 50 per cent larger than the standard bin (360 litres). Larger bins are available for families of five or more, or for those with very young children.
Subsequently the sequence of events surrounding this issue is: -
Mr and Mrs Corkhill’s house was visited twice in July 2007 and an information pack on waste minimisation and recycling delivered.
Mr Corkhill was issued with a formal warning notice on the 24th July 2007 following instances of his bin overflowing with waste.
The family bin was seen overflowing again, which resulted in a letter being sent in November 2007. This letter offered help to the family to reduce the amount of waste they throw-away and therefore help them avoid a fine.
Members of our enforcement team revisited the area in January 2008. The bin was overfilled again and Mr Corkhill was issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice which allowed 14 days to pay. This FPN was disregarded.
Mr Corkhill was sent a reminder to pay the fine on February 7, 2008. This reminder was disregarded.
Reluctantly, a summons was issued to Mr Corkhill to attend Court on the April 10, 2008. Mr Corkhill chose not to attend, and in his absence Magistrates heard the case and issued a fine of £110, prosecution costs of £100 and a £15 surcharge – a total of £225.
In summary, we gave the family a larger bin and offered them support in reducing their waste, which they chose not to take up. We have not given any Copeland resident a criminal record for an open bin lid. You get this by not responding to a statutory notice, not paying a statutory fine, and not attending a Magistrate’s Court, when summonsed, to defend oneself.
We are working to reduce the amount of waste we throw away – both for environmental reasons, and especially, to ensure that all Copeland residents avoid the cost of future landfill fines. We offer a range of facilities and services to help residents do this.
It is only in the event of persistent offending that we will consider prosecution, and only after we have made every effort to work with the household in question. The vast majority of our residents work successfully with our waste minimisation policies.
Our officers and councillors are happy to discuss waste minimisation and recycling with any residents.
Cllr Elaine WOODBURN
On behalf of Copeland
SIR – Why not use a carrot instead of a stick? Newcastle Council issues labels with individual bar codes to stick on black boxes. The bin men are equipped with bar code readers, and there are regular prize draws.
This idea could be extended for all manner of purposes, including clean, closed bins. Perhaps the public could also be encouraged to nominate binmen and road sweepers who do a good tidy job?
Of course all these things would take a bit of extra trouble and perhaps involve a couple of people being taken off the dole, but isn’t that what the term “public service” is supposed to mean?
If punitive action is warranted, it would be better directed against businesses which insist on lumbering us with bales of unnecessary packaging. Why on earth do things like a cucumber, a cauliflower or a bunch of bananas need to be in individual plastic bags?
Townfield Close, Ravenglass
SIR – This is a copy of a letter I sent to Liam Murphy, Chief Executive, Copeland Borough Council.
Dear Mr Murphy,
We were appalled at your council’s dealings regarding the ‘bin lid.’ I have read your account and feel saddened that something as trivial as ‘the height of a bin lid’ should put a man into such an intolerable position as a criminal.
‘Closed’ – not a little open, as indicated by your man on television. How downright absurd.
Had it been me – I too would not have paid the initial fine, as being too ridiculous for words.
Margaret Crosby’s article of April 23 in The Whitehaven News is worthy of note, except I do not agree that the public should join together to pay the fine – it should be revoked as having completely stepped over the line.
What are you driving the public to? Dumping in lanes – that’s what. Had the garbage been spilling out, or on his lawn, that may have been another matter. From your record this is by far not the first such ‘offence’. It seems to me you have a sad set of councillors, with such narrow minds. Landfill is of course a problem, but there are more positive ways of addressing it.
It’s time councillors realised they are dealing with human beings – and to treat the public as such.
Criminal law! What is it with this country – an unlicensed driver can kill a child and get three months - whilst a bin can turn a man into a criminal?
Mrs Sheila BENNETT
SIR – This is a copy of a letter I sent to Coun Elaine Woodburn, Leader of Copeland Borough Council.
“I am not so naive as to believe every word that any newspaper prints, but I have to say that even if there is any truth in the front page article of the Daily Mail, April 22, you and your council members should be thoroughly ashamed.
I trust you will send an immediate letter of apology to Mr Corkhill and a cheque to cover all his costs. In addition I suggest you make a formal appeal to the courts to withdraw any accusations and penalties applied against him. Failing that, I suggest you all resign.
A local council is there to serve the people. You cannot wave a magic wand and cure all ills, but it is your duty to strive to do your best. A key factor in any local council’s success is having the majority of the public you serve on your side.
I ask you, what respect are you and your members going to enjoy after this pathetic incident?
SIR – The young man shouldn’t have been prosecuted, and the magistrates should have been more understanding of the problems with a large family today. The fine would be a drop in the ocean to anyone on the salaries of the Copeland officials, but to Mr Corkhill it’s a lot of money. Driving a bus for poor wages is a hard way to make a living.
I also think its unrealistic to have fortnightly collections for a large family – six people generate a lot of refuse over 14 days. We need a more sensible, understanding attitude from the council.
We could make a start by removing the word “enforcement” from wardens uniforms. I also don’t like the word “enforcement”, on the side of a van that drives round the town. Enforcement, to me, means an expectation of non-compliance to a rule. This is not true of most Copeland residents: we don’t need to be forced to do anything that’s obviously of benefit to the town. We should all work together to improve Copeland.
I wasn’t surprised that the Rev Bannister’s appeal was soon oversubscribed and closed. My neighbours collected a good sum which wasn’t accepted. There are strong feelings in the town.
H G ROBERTS
SIR – The local council where I live provide two collections per week! One for land fill, black bags (no wheelie bin) – as many as you want. There is also another collection for recyclable items. They don’t have to be sorted. My local authority is South Holland District Council in South Lincolnshire.
Perhaps you should change your district council.
Howard C HUETT
SIR – I wonder if the official involved in the ‘wheelie-bin’ controversy, which created less than welcome headlines for Copeland Council in last week’s national press, feels any embarrassment over his part in this sorry affair?
In view of the fact that local authorities now consider themselves the ‘Masters’ and not the ‘Servants’ of the public, I very much doubt it.
Shambles behind 10p tax debacle
SIR – There may be those who are not on low incomes and who imagine that last week’s U-turn has solved the problems created in West Cumbria and elsewhere by the abolition of the 10p starting tax rate. Sadly, it has not.
For a start, until the implementation of the promised concessions, full details of which will not be released until the Pre-Budget Report in the autumn, the five million people who were adversely affected by this tax change will still be paying more.
In a constituency like Copeland that probably means that nearly 10,000 people are currently losing out by anything up to £464 per family.
Affluent and middle class people who lose some money but are promised it back in a few months can afford to borrow against that promise or reduce their savings, but for people in the income bracket affected by the 10p tax change, this is much more difficult. What makes matters worse is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, could not give an absolute guarantee that everyone affected would get the full amount back. So at the moment, and for the next few months, this change is causing real difficulties.
It is welcome that enough Labour MPs have finally recognised, a year after the decision was announced, that a tax increase specifically targeted against those on low incomes is a bad idea to force the government to change this “Reverse Robin Hood” policy. Unfortunately none of the ideas being mooted – changing payments for pensioners or those with families, changing the minimum wage or working tax credits - will help everyone affected. Not all those who lose out are pensioners or have children, only five percent are on the minimum wage and the take-up of working tax credit is only 22 per cent. At the moment what we have is a complete shambles, and the most vulnerable hard-working families are paying the price.
There are only two things the government could do which would undo the damage. The simplest would have been to actually reverse the decision – but that would apparently have been too much of a humiliation for them.
The other approach, as George Osborne and others have suggested, would be to increase tax thresholds so that more of those on low incomes are taken out of the PAYE system entirely. The government have not explained how they will fund the concessions they have promised, but that would be the most effective use of whatever money they can find.
Coun Chris WHITESIDE
Conservative PPC for Copeland
Town strategy will help shops
SIR – I am writing to add to the debate on the current state of Whitehaven and the comments made by the representatives of The Chamber of Commerce.
The town is being let down by those who are elected to preserve and develop the town who do not have a clear strategy for progress or a clear plan of sustainable development. This is evidenced by the comparative success of Workington in attracting new retail outlets, including Debenhams, and by improving its infrastructure with a coherent plan, successfully.
The comments made by representatives of the Chamber of Commerce that the town is successful as it can attract ageing rock stars to play a concert and, for heaven’s sake, turn on the Christmas lights is at best embarrassing.
The town has too many areas which need urgent attention and maintenance and the council continues to turn a blind eye from its new ivory tower, look at the state of the market place and so many other areas.
It is time for a co-ordinated approach to the town’s rejuvenation to be put forward and for those in power to do what so many in the town wish, which is to add to and develop their town and to make it prosperous, the taxes we pay after all are not just to support the few but to make the town a better place for everyone.
A S KEEP
Evidence is in local archives
SIR – I was also annoyed at the article on the Cleator Moor riot by Brian Parnaby. It seems he’s found a pen late in life and is unable to control it in any aspects of his public writings.
I didn’t write to you, feeling that I was one of very few relatives who knew the family history, and was ashamed to read the letter from Hillary Wilson, defending someone I should have taken up the sword on behalf of.
I am a great grand daughter of Richard, younger brother of John Bawden. Some years ago I spent many hours transcribing the entire reports of the trials in The Whitehaven News.
I have picked out a few comments and character reference on my great great uncle John Bawden, at the trial:
1 Inspector Blenkinsop swore that the first pistol was not fired by John Bawden.
2 PC Fisher also gave similar evidence.
3 John Bawden carried a small stick and a scroll.
4 John Bawden “Had the highest character of respectability and had been advanced in every movement with which he was associated.”
5 He was the chief personage with the Orange Lodge, in that district (Cleator Moor), and for many years treasurer of the local temperance association in connection with his church, “and strong in his attachments to his religious duties.”
6 The only suggestion that he used violence came from four Roman Catholics. Not a single witness on behalf of the crown had hinted that he’d seen Bawden guilty of an act of violence.
John Bawden was a Rechabite (temperance league) and parish clerk.
He was also principal foreman of all the miners, in charge of talks with the mine management’s on behalf of the workers.
The writings in The Whitehaven News are old fashioned, but they still tell of an upright honourable man who did not incite his members to violence.
Mrs M GASKELL
Main Street, Egremont
Preparing for that interview
SIR – Recently, I read a job advertisement, which said: “You will have a can do-attitude and natural eye for opportunity. You will help ensure sales and profitability targets are not just met but exceeded. You will have personality, drive, ambition, enthusiasm and commitment. You will develop your career potential within a dynamic operation etc etc.”
They wanted all that for £6.58 an hour selling an ordinary commodity, to ordinary Joe Public, in an ordinary High Street shop. Depressing isn’t it?
Gone are the days when an ordinary letter could be sent to an ordinary shop or factory, read by an ordinary bloke who might have given you an ordinary interview for an ordinary job that paid an ordinary wage so that you could buy an ordinary loaf of bread at the end of an ordinary week.
Job adverts today are composed chiefly of corporate twaddle and interviewers interview “everybody” as if they were looking for Alan Sugar’s apprentice. They want to hear corporate twaddle spoken back to them by us ordinary mortals who they expect will have spent weeks researching their company’s five-year plan, its mission statement and its accounts and who will know instantly which posh school their Managing Director went to in the 1960s.
So, before going for that cleaning job, do your homework. Prepare as if you are applying to be an astronaut for NASA’s space programme. Your interviewers will not be impressed otherwise, so think big. Tell them you have cleaned every rocket in the whole wide world and that during the Cold War you even cleaned the Cuban missiles with a special duster. In 1969 you won that elusive contract to be the housekeeper in Neil Armstrong’s lunar module; after landing, of course, because there’d be no fun in it otherwise. But hey-ho, you had to pull out at the last minute. Shame. You were so disappointed.
And when they ask you what you do in your spare time, honesty is the best tack. You’ve been awfully busy. You can now speak three foreign languages fluently: ever-so handy if you’re sweeping the entrance to Terminal 5. And when you were in the Army and washed tents in Bosnia, in your leisure time you learned how to drive a tank. Say you once cleaned the offices in MI5 so you’re dead handy with a machine gun and were once an undercover agent for Mop & Co. Hong Kong Fuey’s got nothing on you!
And don’t forget to dress like a dog’s dinner. Phone up Kim and Aggie and ask to borrow that golden pinny and those washing up gloves with fur round. Then, who knows; you might just bag that £6.58 an hour. And, if they don’t want you this time, don’t despair. Maybe you overdid it a tad. But no worries! You won’t have to wait too long for that next ridiculously worded job advert, so good luck job seekers and best of British!
Nethertown Road, St Bees
Thanks for this happy ending
SIR – I would like to thank everyone that was involved in the search for my grandson on Saturday, April 19, including the police and rescue services, the local villagers of Nethertown (who turned out in force) and in particular, Ken Kiernan, his daughter Kayleigh and also Brian Golding.
The incident was traumatic, to say the least, and we are hugely thankful that Charlie is safe and well and back at school, apparently, none the worse for his ordeal. Charlie declared “I just ran and ran along the shore until I came to some beach bungalows”.
To conclude, my family and I would sincerely like to express our heartfelt thanks to all concerned and ultimately, to thank God for the happy outcome.
First published at 15:52, Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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