In a week where a brouhaha over a baked Alaska made headline news (whilst the horrors of the Middle East continued, the staggering incompetence and negligence of various authorities in South Yorkshire was laid bare and various EU leaders scrambled about trying to look decisive in preventing the onward march of a megalomaniacal Russian), it would be a fair observation that the world is slightly screwed on its axis. Never was this more apparent than when I visited the local tip – or household waste site or whatever the hell is this week’s nomenclature. In trying to exercise my civic responsibility I drove a box van to the site full of the detritus of clearing a house. My first error: thinking that I could drive in slowly to unload the rubbish into the appropriate receptacle. As I passed through the gates of the establishment I was apprehended with that universal greeting of “Oi, you!” Straight out of central casting for “The Office” a young lady informed me that I could not come in driving a van without a permit. “It’s all on the website” she said. Indeed, she said this approximately 20 times in a two minute conversation. Firstly may I say that the lady in question was polite and must have gained a high score and a gold badge on the training day that her employers must have sent her on to deal with members of the public who have the temerity to not have the waste website on their “favourites” list. Incidentally, if a household waste recycling site is on your “favourites ” list, you need help; quickly. Her answer to every query or comment that I made was “It’s on the website”. At this point you (as did I) can picture the scene of some shiny-suited, David Brent-esque character who illustrates every point that he makes with his hands and tries to be overly-friendly with everyone, coaching the aforementioned young lady to be firm with them and tell them, “It’s all on the website”. Honestly, with such people in the demographic of society, how did we ever lose the Empire? I digress. Having asked where I could get the permit that had now taken on an importance on a par with the Dayton Accords I was redirected to the council office 50 yards away. “They will get you a permit” I was informed. Great. “But you can’t come in here with that van, even with a permit”. What? Apparently, the van that I was driving, hired with my normal car-driver’s licence was too big and would never ever be allowed through the portals of the establishment. When asked what my council tax contributed towards, I was told that the waste recycling centre was actually privately owned and the council did not pay for it or contribute to any of its costs. But you have to get your permit – for the van that will never be allowed in-from the council offices. Got it?
I decided to look at the Torfaen Council website (ten minutes of my life lost forever). For those of you who may be thinking of getting rid of some rubbish: you cannot take a box van into the site. You cannot take any type of DIY/renovation waste to the site in any type of vehicle. Loading it onto a bicycle or pack mule was not covered, so may be worth chancing…You can however take in waste paper, cans, timber, trees, white goods, fridges, large domestic appliances, light fittings and pieces of furniture. So all “Banned Items” from a DIY project can actually be taken in under “Permitted Items”. Just not in a box van. Or any other type of van if the contents are deemed to have come from a DIY project. Got it?
Several articles in the local press have featured residents of the area and therefore Torfaen Council Tax payers who have all spoken of the “unreasonable” rules being implemented. Mr Mike Green of Croesyceiliog said, “I am an honest, law abiding, fair person. I am also concerned about the environment and a man of conscience. Had I been an unscrupulous man many of the items would have ended up on the side of the road and nearby fields”. Very true. These items could have been dumped illegally to sit alongside all the other illegally dumped items that are still sitting in fields and at the side of the roads in the Torfaen borough. I am sure that if I queried as to why they are still sitting there the answer would have been something involving ‘budget cuts’ and the council are ‘working hard for the community’. Perhaps if I may be so bold, my – and every other council tax payer’s money- could be directed towards providing a recycling site that actually allows someone to deposit items to be recycled, as opposed to the all-singing, all-dancing website that-whilst there is a need for a website- should not be the sole means of communication with the public, nor its content used as an excuse as to why responsible citizens cannot rid themselves of rubbish items that will not fit inside a household bin. The likelihood of that happening is possibly even money on going out to dinner with Miss Minogue.