We start the week with a little humdinger from the People’s Republic of Sandwell.
In 2008, Sandwell was one of only three district Councils to be awarded the lowest ‘poor’ rating by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in respect of the rubbish in their streets.
It is not as though they do not have employees whose job it is to collect rubbish – 130 of them to be precise. Whoops! About to go on strike.
Sandwell Council is engaged in a bitter battle with their binmen. Some 87% of the towns 130 Unite members have voted for strike action.
The strike is taking place over the single status pay shake-up. Under new contracts, trade and flats drivers now earn £26,100, domestic and recycling drivers £21,400 and loaders and yardmen £17,800.
Not to fear, they have a back-up plan.
Sandwell Council was one of the ‘deprived areas’ who were awarded money from the ‘Working Neighbourhoods Fund’ to get people off welfare and into work, so they have money available to employ street cleaners.
Hold fast, there is a Quango as well – Tipton Litter Watch, funded as part of Sandwell’s Children and Young People’s Trust Partnership – and they are involved in litter collecting too. In fact they run an ‘award winning’ scheme to ‘make Sandwell sparkle’ – in the last three years, 8.500 school pupils, 1,000 teaching staff and 93 Sandwell schools have taken part……
With some success too:
LITTER-picking volunteers were amazed to find three motorbikes – including a Harley Davidson – and more than a dozen bicycles as they cleared out a Black Country canal last weekend.
A massive 45 tonnes of junk was pulled from the Sandwell waterway – heavier than all of the rubbish Sandwell Council’s Big Spring Clean campaign has collected in its three-year history.
I’m losing count here – that’s 8,500 school children, 1,000 teaching staff, and now they’ve been joined by:
Local authority staff were joined by volunteers from British Waterways, the Inland Waterways Association, the Waterways Recovery Group and the Birmingham Canal Navigation Society to make a team of 140 workers.
– and we still haven’t counted in the workers hired from the ‘Working Neighbourhood Fund’!
Sandwell has also been given a share of a £500,000 ‘Respect Task Force’ Fund, split between 20 councils to fund a creepy scheme whereby local schoolchildren were used to record messages to be broadcast over a loudspeaker whenever watching CCTV control centre staff saw anyone throw a piece of litter on the ground.
They haven’t finished yet! Sandwell has also hired ‘Sandwell Wardens’ to patrol the streets, taking an ‘uncompromising, but fair and consistent, stand against anti-social behaviour’:
Wardens have been delegated a range of powers by Sandwell MBC which allows them to issue Fixed Penalty Tickets for a variety of offences which include litter, dog fouling, abandoning a vehicle, graffiti, fly posting, repairing a vehicle on a road, offering a vehicle for sale on the road and other offences connected to litter enforcement.
Now you might get the impression by now that the entire population of Sandwell is engaged in picking up litter, and they might be fighting over the last remaining chewing gum wrapper…..
Which would explain their latest antic. Following earlier excesses, whereby they fined a Mother and Baby for feeding the ducks, and another lady when she blew her nose in the inclement head winds they experience in those parts, and the tissue was blown out of her hand, the stalking jobsworths have really excelled themselves today:
AN elderly widow has been threatened with a £2,500 fine by council officials – for dropping cigarette ash on the pavement.
Sheila Martin, 70, was smoking at a bus stop when a warden pounced and handed her the £75 fixed penalty for littering.
The cash-strapped gran refused to pay – and has now been warned it could rise to £2,500.
Yes – sterile ash from the end of her cigarette, that she was duly smoking in a howling head wind at the bus stop anyway! Not a cigarette end, the ash.
If this lady is presented with a £2,500 bill, I shall be starting another fund, ala Nick Hogan.
Watch this space.