Sunday, 3 February 2013

Haringey Council - fussbucket central!


Although I fear that Councils elsewhere will be rubbing their hands in glee at the opportunity to fuss and bother over petty regulation:

Cllr Nilgun Canver, Cabinet Member for the Environment at Haringey Council, said: 'We will continue to work closely with our partners in the police and the courts to tackle illegal activity around vehicles, especially looking out for unlicensed waste carriers that are responsible for so much dumping in our borough.
Now I'm pretty sure that this nannying politician didn't write that quote - it was crafted by a well-staffed press office and approved by layers of bureaucrats. I could launch into a rant about so-called "unlicensed waste" and the obscene targeting of tradesmen in vans going about their everyday business. You know why the carpet fitter won't take you old carpet away? And you have to take your own waste to the council tip?

It's because councils have a nice little earner ripping off tradesmen and the Environment Agency has some expensive regulations for people moving "waste" about. Most of these regulations are not there to save the planet, to promote recycling or any such noble aim - they are there to protect primary manufacturers, they a simply protectionism via regulation.

Cllr Canver (or rather the jobsworth who wrote the quote she approved) assumes that Fred the plumber with some household waste in his van is going to do some "dumping in our borough". Rather than take it home, transfer it to his private vehicle and then take it to the tip - thereby avoiding tipping charges from the Council.

The report - understandably - focuses on the utter nonsense of fining a non-smoker driving a brand new van for:

Clipboard-wielding council officers then, however, spotted that he didn't have a 'no smoking' sticker on his gleaming van and he was given an on-the-spot fine of £200. 

And Cllr Canver (without thinking because she probably didn't) had this to say:

We will continue to protect those workers who are forced to sit in smoke polluted environments because their employers don't comply with the law which bans smoke in company vehicles.'

The mind doth truly boggle - this was a brand new van, pristine and shiny, being driven by someone who had never smoked.

However the real lesson of this is that the authorities had no good reasons at all to stop this vehicle. Councils and police have adopted an aggressive and illiberal approach to anyone who has the audacity to use a van for work. I've no issue stopping a van if it's being driven badly, seems unsafe or might have been involved in a crime. But stopping every van that passes and trying to find things to fine the driver for - this was a deliberate and targeted attack on people going about their daily business.

Finally, the Council claims the caught "several fly-tippers" - given the location (Wickes DIY) and the presence of a load of hi-viz clad clipboard-wielders, this is almost certainly not the case at all. What they found were people without a waste licence - not the same thing at all. One is dumping stuff by the roadside, the other is not complying with an expensive piece of petty bureaucracy.


The brave among you might care to check out Cllr Canver's CV - it's a paen to left-leaning fussbucketry!


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