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News hit us this week that London's Croydon Council is potentially about to go bankrupt, with, no doubt, many other local authorities in a similar position thanks to the pandemic... Plus of course decades of trying to balance budgets whilst ensuring the coffers are emptied each tax year so the council is awarded the same funding next time.
My daughter, a central government worker, has grumbled that the public sector pay freeze is definitely going ahead and when I said that this was the right thing to do; that she's earning enough as it is, she asked why I felt this way. I told her that money is really tight and that if anyone were to be given a decent pay rise it should be frontline workers, such as nurses - and cleaners of course.
Our conversation reminded me of an email I sent to my local council this week, in response to the news that my replacement recycling bin would be with me within five days. I don't normally respond to such emails but the nation's finances are obviously worrying me...
"We've had thee bins over a very short period. The one you're replacing was broken during the first collection and it's been made steadily worse over time, recently ending up shattered on the pavement where it's generally thrown down, rather than put down. My daughter tore a treasured pair of trousers on the last one & has also cut herself on one of the broken parts. We keep our bins next to our front fence so don't abuse them in any way ourselves. I realise the refuse collectors are in a tearing hurry but if they took more care of the bins there would be more money in the pot for potential pay increases. Wondering if that's worth mentioning to them?"
After pressing 'send' I pondered over the cost of replacing damaged items such as bins, versus the labour costs for those who handle them. Surely there comes a point when by giving refuse collectors (and others in a similar position) a little extra time to complete the day's work, less damage will be caused to local authority property and a better job done? And what about the environmental factors? Does anyone ever do the maths, or are we all working at such a pace that we can't see the wood for the trees?
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26th November 2020