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Bin wars, with The Daily Mail

October 18, 2010

The Daily Mail has been conducting an anti-wheelie bin campaign for quite some time now, as you can see from their ‘Not in my front yard’ campaign, launched on 18 June 2009 (cleverly illustrated with a picture of a road on collections day).  It’s easy to see how very important the bin issue is to them.  Simply type ‘bins’ into the search bar of the Mail Online website, and this is the result.

It’s no surprise, then, to see this story on the Mail Online site:  TEN bins, boxes and bags for our rubbish: Cottage garden overtaken by recycling containers, in which a ’63 year old grandmother’ complains about the number of bins issued by her council, Telford and Wrekin. For those of you who may have trouble visualising such a ‘staggering array of recycling receptacles’, there’s a rather lovely photo.

Along with some disparaging remarks about energy efficient light bulbs and slop buckets (why they’re not really slop buckets has been covered here by Anton Vowl at Enemies of Reason), The Mail makes use of the words, ‘has to accomodate,’ and ‘must use,’ to emphasise the strict, forceful nature of this bin regime.  One of the garden waste bins is an extra, requested by Mrs Bould and her husband so that they could ‘keep the back garden tidy’, so, in fairness, shouldn’t be counted.  Also, to be completely fair to Mrs Bould, she hasn’t really complained all that much.  She supports the council’s efforts to increase recycling and reduce waste, but she just wishes, ‘the council could issue us with a single bin for the majority of our dry recycled waste’.

The Bould’s are part of a 5,500 household strong alternate weekly collection trial being undertaken by their council, with the key word being ‘trial’.  The Mail claims that it is ‘amongst the most stringent seen so far.’
Right at the bottom of the article, in the hinterland of truth where many fear to tread, a councillor from Telford and Wrekin, Adrian Lawrence, is credited with saying ‘the trial would help establish whether it would be ‘cost-effective’ to introduce borough-wide food collection.’ The council appears to be trying to save money, which surely ought to be applauded in these ‘everybody must share the pain,’ times of budget cuts.  Unfortunately, there’s no quote from the Taxpayer’s Alliance to confirm whether a council trying to save money is a good thing, so I’ll have to reserve judgement on that.

The whole piece was built on The Mail’s disgust that Mrs Bould had been forced to accomodate ten, count them, TEN, different recycling containers in her ‘cottage garden’.  The last line of their article reveals this to be a very misleading take on the situation.  It seems Councillor Lawrence said, ‘any householders who did not wish to take part in the trial had been given the opportunity to opt out,’ so Mrs Bould could simply have opted out.  Given the extra garden waste bin she requested, perhaps she doesn’t have such a big problem with her council’s waste collection trial after all.  Maybe it was just a case of The Mail creating a story where there was none in order to republicise their ‘Not in my front yard’ campaign (which does get a mention in their article).  Either way, to me it looks like yet another example of a misleading headline, supported by misleading wording, falling down like a house of cards once you’ve read it to the end.


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