Putting Me Out of My Misery

Putting Me Out of My Misery

Recycling1I’ve had jolly good fun sparring with Norwich City Council about the farcical recycling service we’ve endured. This is the very same council that was the “winner of the gold award for ‘delivering through efficiency’ in the public sector Improvement and Efficiency Awards 2013,” and was “highly commended in the ‘most improved council’ category of the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2013.” Blimey. How bad were the also rans?

The volley of emails make for an amusing read which I thought I’d share.

Me

I rang your call centre on Friday 3rd to inform you that, once again, my recycling had not been collected. Your agent told me it would be collected today. It wasn’t. This is now the fourth time the blue recycling bin and glass box (that I share with my neighbour) have been missed. The refuse collectors simply walk past them as if they weren’t there. Really, I have better things to do than spend my money ringing the council and my energies wheeling the bin up and down the pathway to and from my flat. Exactly what am I paying my council tax for? What do I have to do to get your contractors to do their job?

Them

Your property is currently not down as a recycling collection, you currently received a weekly black sack collection. To change this we will need to put you on an alternate weekly collection, meaning one week will be general household waste and the next your recycling with a weekly food collection. Do you have room for wheelie bins?

Me

I would be grateful if you actually took the time to read my message. Obviously, I already have a blue recycling wheelie bin and a green glass box which were here when I moved into the property last June. I share them with my neighbour on the ground floor of XX St Georges Street. I have never used a black sack collection service. I faithfully wheel our bin out each fortnight on the designated day. Sometimes it’s emptied. Sometimes it’s not. If by putting the property on some internal council recycling list means that my large bright blue wheelie bin is no longer invisible to the eye of the bin men who pass by then please add this property to that list.

Them

As the crews use pda’s to tick off each property when a bin is collected, your address needs to be on the system for a recycling collection, that way they will know to collect it or we will know if it’s been missed. I will change your property to an alternate weekly collection and send a calendar to yours and your neighbour’s address.

Me

I’m fed up contacting the Council to get my recycling collected. It was missed again last Friday (24th May). I rang (again) and was told by XXX that someone would call me back. Of course they didn’t. This has been going on for nearly a year. When will my recycling bins be emptied?

Them

There are a number of properties on your road changing over this week to alternate weekly collections, this means one week your household waste and the next recycling, I did send a letter to your address last week explaining this and giving you a calendar for collection days. Was this received?

Me

No, I have not received a letter from you. The last letter I received from the council was a couple of months ago advising me that our collection day was moving from Tuesday to Friday (alternate recycling/general waste). The manager of the council call centre rang me yesterday to tell me that I’m now on the ‘list’ for recycling and it would be collected alternate Tuesdays. XXXX rang me today to ask if my complaint had been dealt with. Who knows? Frankly, I’m still none the wiser. Is it Tuesday or Friday for recycling, general refuse or both? Perhaps you could put me out of my misery.

Them

I apologise for all the different points of contact, I will confirm your days in writing and supply you with a calendar tomorrow. I will also hand deliver to make sure you get it.

This was the first apology I’d received. Did I get the promised hand-delivered note? Actually, I did.

Post Script: Alas, despite my best hopes and my faithful compliance with the glossy collection schedule I received, my general waste was left rotting by the wayside.  It’s enough to make a vigilante of an honest citizen.

A Number on a List

A Number on a List

Recycle for NorwichWhat does this bog blue box on wheels look like to you? There’s a small clue stamped on the side. Yep, looks like a recycling wheelie bin to me too. So why is that the butch bin men of Norwich City Council (or refuse disposal executives or whatever fancy names they give themselves these days) walk past it as if it were invisible? Several fruitless calls to the over-imposing art décor city hall (the huge building that can be seen for miles and which the Luftwaffe failed to hit during a bombing raid) have not established why the vibrant blue box I share with our fabulous neighbour seems to merge inconspicuously into the brown-red brick backdrop at the very moment the bins around us get emptied. Apparently I’m not on their list and so I don’t exist. So put me on your list, I said. Right away, they said. Must have slipped their minds. I’m waiting for a call back from a very important supervisor-type person. Still no joy. That must have slipped their minds too. Exhausting work, this bean-counting business. I know, I used to be one of them. Over to UB40 who famously sang in 1981 (during the last great depression):

On in Ten

P.S. I know the green glass box (also invisible on collection day), does make it look like we’re a couple of old lushes but I would say in our defence that it’s two weeks worth of empties and our neighbour also has a wee dram from time to time.

On the subject of recycling, you might also like And Then There Were Three.

And Then There Were Three

wheelie binWhen we lived in Walthamstow, the recycling scheme was clear and simple. We had a single green plastic container into which all material was deposited – plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, aluminium cans – the entire kit and caboodle. I called it my ‘save the world box’ and it was emptied weekly. Four years on and the whole recycling malarkey has got a lot more serious. We now have a black wheelie bin for general household refuse and a light green wheelie bin for recycling except for kitchen waste that goes in a little black box, garden waste that is chucked into a beige sack and glass which goes into a dark green box. The latter, in particular, requires the strength of two butch lads to lug and tip. Our little back yard, with its random collection of multi-sized containers, could be entered into the Turner Prize to represent the municipal oppression of the common man.

Our general rubbish and recycling is collected on alternate weeks. This came as quite a shock after the twice daily tours by Bodrum bin men. At my advanced age, the new regime takes some mental acrobatics to remember what week is which. I’ve taken to sticking post-it notes on the multi-point.  Nevertheless, we do our bit. Sometimes though, the city council don’t do theirs and sometimes, they serve up an embarrassment of riches. Three times now, our recycling has been left to rot by the wayside. Our refuse was refused. Then we were suddenly hit by the mysterious case of the stolen wheelie. I looked out the window. It was gone. I looked up and down the street. It was of empty of wheelies of any sort. What would Miss Marple make of it? I amused myself with the thought of early-morning students on a drunken caper wheeling my wheelie around the city with a pissed-up nerd inside. Wheelie-less, I rang the Council. “I’m without a wheelie,” I said. “Oh dear, no,” a sympathetic lady replied. She was shocked by my sorry tale and promised re-instatement. A shiny new wheelie arrived the very next day; then another one the day after, then a third the day after that. I’ve opened an e-Bay account. Don’t tell the Council.