Compared to Spain, Britain’s binmen are a load of rubbish

28 Jan

My dispute with the guys who collect the household refuse at my home in the UK is not so much a game of cat and mouse. It’s more like  prat and house.

Bury Borough Council is not the only local authority that refuses to take bags which protrude above the lid of the grey wheelie bin provided for every household. But what a petty rule it is!

Believe me, when it comes to rubbish collection, the guys who empty the bins around my Costa Blanca villa are in a different league. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

The fact is some households generate more rubbish than others – particularly if hordes of children either live in the house or descend upon it almost incessantly. Such is my home in the Bury area of Lancashire – courtesy of the fact that my five grandkids all live within 200 yards of my pad.

And while I can accept the local council placing some limit on what they will collect, it takes a true jobsworth to remove and dump any bag that happens to protrude above lid level of the wheelie bin.

Bury Council’s official website requests householders to ‘‘make sure your bin lids are fully closed’’ on collection day. But why? Will the bin attack a neighbour or something if the lid is raised just a teeny bit above horizontal?

It beats me that the binmen bother to enforce the ‘empty closed wheelies only’ policy because moving a piled-high bin onto the ramp to be tipped automatically into the bowels of their wagon is surely quicker than having to remove the excess rubbish first.

You’d think the £178-per-month I pay in council tax would entitle me to have ALL my genuine household waste taken away each week. Instead, I often have to wait three weeks for my separate recycling and garden-waste wheelie bins to be emptied.

It’s all so inferior to the quiet, efficient way refuse is collected in the Costa Blanca, which has become my home of choice over the last few years.

To start with, the Spanish binmen come in the evening, when the roads are quiet – so there’s minimum disruption to traffic. It’s so much better than the chaos British bin lorries cause during the day as they back up into side streets and cul de sacs.

In Spain, household refuse is also collected EVERY DAY, not just once a week. In the winter, as well as summer. And rather than stopping at every house, the binmen remove the rubbish from large communal containers placed a couple of hundred yards apart.

Garden refuse is collected once a week from the same point, while recycling containers are dotted conveniently around the urbanisation for people to use at their convenience.

It’s anything but inconvenient for householders – even the laziest of individuals should be able to walk 100 yards to dispose of their household waste. Oh, and last year the council tax on my three-bedroom villa amounted to just 386.08 euros (equal to £333.78 as I write). That’s roughly 20 per cent of what I pay to Bury Council.

It’s one of my old chestnuts, but Britain is being held back by the old colonialist attitude that still lingers in decision-making areas. Namely that if we didn’t think it up, then it can’t be any good.

That sort of thinking is a massive load of rubbish! And no, Bury Council, I don’t want your bolshy binmen to come and dump it all on my drive in Prestwich.

Put the lid on it, boys. This jobsworth behaviour wheelie is too much.

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7 Responses to “Compared to Spain, Britain’s binmen are a load of rubbish”

  1. Amelie January 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Wow that’s such a dumb rule! I’m American and living in Madrid and I can attest to the garbage men (what we call them back in the States) coming around every night and picking up the recycling and the trash–including Sundays! Back in the US it’s pretty efficient too–there are set days for recycling and trash depending what day of the week it is but they don’t come around on weekends (and they come around early morning and wake you up with all the racket they cause). We don’t have any rule about garbage overflowing (at least don’t think so) but keeping your bins closed is probably a better idea–otherwise the animals (especially the raccoons, they like to scavenge A LOT) can get in and tip them over. Then you have to clean it up–not so fun!

    • donna773 January 28, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

      Not too many racoons in Bury, Amelie – but I have seen quite a few urban foxes. Not heard the council use that as a reason for their wheelie-bin pettiness, though.

  2. Steve Walters February 1, 2011 at 3:07 am #

    Interesting post.

    What does your Spanish Council Tax cover out of interest?
    and, is your Communal Trash area due to serving Flats?

    I ask, as, when I used to live in Swansea Marina, UK, we too took our trash to the communal area.

    Where I live now, Alltwen (outskirt of Swansea) I pay £110pcm but that includes all the emergency services etc that come with the Council. + they do take any amount of rubbish away that I put out (touch wood).

    But I agree, the UK is p###ing a lot of people off. What are the downsides to Spain by the way?

  3. donna773 February 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Steve, I don’t know exactly what the Spanish Council Tax covers but a Cadiz-based friend on ExpatForum.com gave me this breakdown:

    ”Where we live, we get a separate bill for rubbish collection (basura de vivienda) every three months at the same time as the water bill. It is about €18 a quarter. The charge for sewage disposal and drainage (alcantarillado) is invoiced once a year and is about €150.

    ”The closest equivalent to the British council tax is the IBI – a tax on the value of your property. The amount depends on your location and the size of the property and it can be paid annually or monthly on direct debit. Ours is about €300 a year on a 3-bed detached house.

    ”If you add them all up – IBI, rubbish, sewerage and water – for us it comes to about €620 a year, which is about a third of what we paid when we left the UK in 2008.”

    As for the downside of being in Spain, I suggest you keep reading this blog! I’ve already had a good grump in the expat press and on this site about the electricity and telephone services, though I suspect my future articles will contain considerably more criticism of the UK than of Spanish life!

  4. donna773 February 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Steve, you might find the following article of interest in assessing the pros and cons of moving in Spain. http:http://gazules.blogspot.com/p/thinking-of-retiring-to-spain.html

  5. Andrew Petcher February 10, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    One of the real problems in the UK is that we are fastidious about EU Health & Safety rules which are regularly flouted elsewhere. For example you won’t find English refuse collectors riding on the back of the wagon as you do in Spain. The H&S concern about overflowing bins is that a bag will fall out during the emptying process and hit the poor man on the head. The answer of course is to recycle as much as possible and then take any excess to the civic amenity site.

    • Victor October 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      I don’t know if you have seen the trucks of garbage in Spain, but nothing can fall to the exterior, because the hydraulic system squashes and closes the garbage. It is literally impossible that something can damage the two workers that are behind the truck

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