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Recycling non-collection: took action into my own hands

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Wednesday 20 February 2008 10.09am
I am not proud of this, but it worked.

For over two years now, we have had a very
intermittent recycling collection from my building, although it should be every Monday. At one point there was no collection for nearly 9 months, which was only broken when local councillors got involved and clashed some heads and we received a personal apology from the Head of Recycling. Turned out the collection crews kept swapping us onto different routes, and in the end we just disappeared.

It improved, but was still off-and-on after that, and when it all stalled again for another 2 months last summer I made an official and very clear complaint, referencing the previous palaver. However the complaint was misunderstood, and after a team of council employees came with cameras and tape measures, I was told we could not have bigger bins, as I had requested. I lost the plot and ranted down the phone that we did not want bigger bins, and it did not need a team with cameras and tape measure to see that there is barely an inch of spare space in the bin store. We just wanted the normal bins EMPTIED occasionally.

So... they were indeed fitfully emptied until the last month or so, when it stopped again completely. Despite weekly, then daily calls, I was always told it would be the next day. It never was.

Yesterday after the 4th day in a row of being told "tomorrow", I really lost the plot. I went over to the Penrose Street offices with a big bag of paper, washed cans and plastic bottles and tipped it all out in their reception area and explained I was bringing my recycling to them. Childish, I admit, and possibly even counter-productive, but I explained that after 2 years of waiting for a service I was at the end of my rope, and this was my protest at the terrible service.

They started to call the police, but then decided not to. I was instructed to clean up the rubbish, which I refused to do. In the end they kicked me out and cleaned it up themselves.

7 o'clock this morning, I am woken by the sweet sound of bottles being collected from the back of my building.

Like I say, I am not proud or triumphant about this pretty silly action of mine, but neither am I ashamed nor regretful. Mostly I am disappointed in Southwark Council that requests, pleas, complaints, councillors, Heads of department achieved nothing, but a crazy person with a bag of rubbish did.

I am writing to the Head of Recycling today to explain my actions anyway, so they don't write it off as a random nut.
Wednesday 20 February 2008 10.13am
Nice one mate!
Wednesday 20 February 2008 2.44pm
good for you....southwark need shaming on this
Wednesday 20 February 2008 2.50pm
I cannot see why irritating low-paid bored council employees by illegally dumping your rubbish in their offices is something to be proud of.
Wednesday 20 February 2008 2.52pm
and not doing their job is fine then?
Wednesday 20 February 2008 3.15pm
The Mapmaker wrote:
I cannot see why irritating low-paid bored council employees by illegally dumping your rubbish in their offices is something to be proud of.

I think you'll find Andrew said he wasn't proud of it. But sometimes desperate people do desperate things.
Wednesday 20 February 2008 3.20pm
"I cannot see why irritating low-paid bored council employees by illegally dumping your rubbish in their offices is something to be proud of"

I doubt very much that they were irritated. It was probably the high point of their day.

I'm on Andrew H's side
Wednesday 20 February 2008 4.15pm
desperate.... it's only a few old tin cans!

And I guarantee that the person who had to clear it up was not the person who failed to organise the collection.

Fine, go and pour it over the head of the individual who is spiting you. But when the responsibility is corporate it is not so obvious that you have hit the correct person.
Wednesday 20 February 2008 4.24pm
collective reponsibility....such a quaint old phrase and so fondly remebered.
Wednesday 20 February 2008 4.32pm
I think you have misunderstood me, The Mapmaker, or maybe you are just in a mood.

I specifically said (twice) I was not at all proud of fly-tipping at their office, if anything I am a bit mortified that I would do something so daft. Although it did the trick because they finally collected all our recylcling at the crack of dawn today.

To clarify, I did not inflict this on some disinterested receptionist for my own pointless pleasure. I asked the most senior person available to come to reception, which they did, then I unleashed the tide of rubbish at his feet and explained my action. My aim was to cause some confusion, drama, inconvenience, irritation, and draw attention to how crap they are.
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