If you’ve been reading my Leaders for any length of time, you’ll be aware of my ‘leave no trace’ mantra… that we should strive to give our cleaning teams as little – if any - unexpected work to do. You’ll also be aware of my argument that we need to support this by making it easy; ensuring that there are plenty of litter and recycling bins around for example, and that our recycling centres are open every day and outside of normal working hours. Also that they are free of charge to ordinary residents - to ensure that there’s no excuse for fly-tipping or putting recyclables into the waste for landfill.
Those thoughts came into play a couple of Fridays back when I needed to dump a double mattress that was beyond redemption. My daughter had warned that we’d never get it into the boot but following a lot of manoeuvring and some brute force my 2007 Honda Civic succumbed and off to the local tip I drove.
Asked for ID by the gateman, I pointed to the sticker one of his colleagues had put on my windscreen the previous year. “That’s out of date” he said. I didn’t have any ID with my address so was advised to go home and get some, but with the growing queue of cars I doubted I’d make it back inside before closing time. I tried everything… my advancing age, the fact that my daughter’s growing a baby that could be harmed if she had to help me wrest the mattress from the car, that I write about cleaning and had often written about visiting the dump and how bureaucracy and red tape encourage fly tipping, (yes, a threat, but made with a smile!). He invited me to pull over so I could call my daughter and ask her to WhatsApp some ID. She answered from the shower and wasn’t best-pleased with my request. Nor was her sister, who was in a meeting. Both sent what I needed within minutes, but the signal was poor so nothing came through. It was getting nearer to closing time and I can honestly say that had I felt I’d have been able to physically remove the mattress myself I’d have done so and left it there on the forecourt, driven off and faced the consequences later. I walked back to the man on the gate to let him know of my plans, but I think he must have read my mind as he allowed me to proceed into the tip. QED. Put too many barriers up for folk who want to do the right thing, and you'll turn us into criminals.