30 September 2011

something a little more serious...eric and his bin crusade

eric’s at it again with his bins.

not content with ruining bradford city council in the late 80s, eric pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, is intent on damaging all councils through his extensive cuts and ridiculous hobby horses such as weekly bin collections, flags and council newspapers and magazines. he specialises in contradictions – championing localism and claiming to give councils power to do what they know is right yet micromanaging councils on things like council taxes increases, numbers of magazines a council can publish and how frequent a council should collect their bins.

he pursues his bin crusade with all the senseless, fanatical fervour of the original crusaders. this crusade has reached new heights today with the announcement of a new £250million fund to support councils to deliver a weekly bin collection service. he insisted in the department for communities and local government press release about the story that a weekly bin collection is a ‘basic right’. this is at a time of austerity where central and local government budgets are being dramatically cut, seriously affecting the lives of vulnerable people in the uk. i really don’t know where the money is from or what is not being paid for to release it.

eric thinks that a weekly bin collection will encourage recycling and reduce vermin and fly-tipping despite research (that I can’t find now, sorry) that shows that a less frequent bin collection correlates with an increase in recycling. perhaps, as someone I follow on twitter said today, the £250million is to pay for increases in landfill fines.

i wrote to eric in february about bin collections, recycling and home composting plus a few other issues like nudging, what taxes pay for and how councils communicate with their residents. i really enjoyed writing my letter so I thought I’d share it with you. i did get a reply from an officer from local government procurement on eric’s behalf. unfortunately it didn’t answer any of my questions and tried to reassure me about eric’s commitment to a weekly bin collection when my letter said I really wanted my bins collecting every two weeks. oh dear. i should have chased it up at the time but didn’t get round to it.

you may also be interested that I sent my letter in the post but included a ps saying i didn’t mind getting an email response because i knew money was a bit tight at their end…and yes, i did get a reply by email.
i’m clearly feeling brave today as not only am i writing this post but i’m also going to share it via twitter…the first time for me…perhaps more people than my one regular reader (my boyfriend) will read it, gulp. i feel quite nervous now...hope it will all be ok.

ps i've never being especially sure about sharing letters like this - in a way it feels like private correspondence - are there any issues about doing this? eric's pronouncement today has annoyed me enough to say sod it and just do it.

06 September 2011

04 September 2011

out in the (neighbour's) garden...scrumping blackberries and apples

last week i went scrumping for apples and blackberries in my neighbour's garden, and got quite a haul - a jumper full of apples and a yellow bowl full of blackberries

which has turned into apple and blackberry puree from nigel slater's real fast puddings, yum. the photo doesn't look that exciting but it did taste delicious and was a perfect topping to my cereal last week with yogurt.

it's not as bad as it sounds - my upstairs neighbour's garden is behind mine - there's no fence, it's extremely overgrown and the upstairs tenants never use it so i might as well have the fruit than it go to waste, simply to make the wasps drunk on the sugar!

there's many more apples on the tree so there'll be plenty of appley food stuffs in the coming weeks. there's also some red ones waiting to ripen so an apple and blackberry crumble may be in order.

today (sunday 4 september) i had another raiding trip resulting in another bowl of blackberries, and about 20 apples. i gave some to a friend in an impromptu produce exchange (i came off best i think with rainbow chard, swede, green beans, yellow courgettes, broad beans); i'll take some to work; and will cook up the rest tomorrow evening. fab.

home sweet home...a colourful treat

how beautiful are these gladioli?  a treat for me from me. the colour is so incredible it has made my brain go empty, i have no words to describe them. the petals are wonderfully rich looking, like silk, like velvet, slightly dusky, tremendous.

and to think they were only £2 - half price, british grown flowers - a little price but a huge value!