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With yet another General Election coming up in the UK and the threat of a protracted strike by South Western Railway staff in the lead up to and over the holiday period, there's a lot of discussion about whether Labour's idea of renationalising our public services is a good one or not. Those who oppose the idea tend to mention the many strikes decades ago which created so much misery; my view is that people who feel they need to strike, will do so, whoever employs them. Those who work for such huge organisations are in a far better position to hold everyone to ransom and can thus do more damage than those working in less important sectors, so perhaps the historical strike action had more to do with potential impact than it did ownership - unless of course, the strike leaders were trying to bring down the Government...
One sector that I strongly believe should come under the national remit rather than being handled locally is that of waste collection and disposal. It's such a mish-mash and one I've grumbled about previously - mainly because of the confusion about what can and cannot be recycled and how the rules differ from one area to another.
Learning this week that Havering Council in West Sussex is following a number of other local authorities by bringing in identity checks at its Household Waste Recycling Sites, reminded me of another reason why the disjointedness of these crucial services is such a bad idea.
The council's surveys have shown that an average of one in 10 people using HWRSs closest to the county borders live outside of West Sussex - and because of this, from December, only West Sussex residents will be able to use the Council's 11 HWRSs "in a bid to save local taxpayers £250,000 per year".
The press release says: "It's thought the high number of people travelling across county boundaries is down to tougher restrictions imposed by neighbouring authorities." Well yes, of course it is! And people wanting to use their nearest facility which may just happen to be run by a different local authority, as opposed to driving what may be several miles in heavy traffic to the one they're supposed to use.
The waste still has to be dealt with and taxes saved by one neighbourhood will create higher taxes for those living elsewhere. Judging by the condition of the UK's roads, which would certainly benefit from having fewer vehicles using them (and which are also under the remit of different councils), I think the whole system would benefit from a total overhaul to create a more balanced and consistent service for all.
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7th November 2019