Alan Castle: This is one for the bin

ONE of the daftest ideas I have heard of recently is the decision by at least one authority in the south of England to charge £1 for every bag you take to a recycling centre.

It must be a case of the complete brain failure by those in charge. I know times are hard and councils do not have any spare cash and need to watch their spending, but this money-raiser must go down in the annals of local government as one of the stupidest and short- sighted in its history.

Personally, I head to the tip at least once a month, sometimes with up to four bags of garden waste, depending on the time of year, but also numerous boxes for the cardboard section, bottles, from wine to sauce and jars, for the glass recycling, to milk and juice containers and unwanted clothing.

However, as soon as the county council clothes bins appear, my unwanted clothes will head somewhere else. That is a money-grabbing idea which affects hard pressed charities.

The people who run the local recycling depot at the Lionheart Industrial Estate are helpful. They will give you a hand if you are unable to lift what you have into a skip and they keep the area spick and span.

People have got into the habit of going to the recycling depot and getting rid of ton after ton of unwanted but reusable rubbish

The result is that I am more than willing to take it to the depot where it may be recycled and turned into something useful.

I was reading the other day that glass can be recycled time and time again, so that must be good. Our garden waste is turned into compost and paper is, of course, recycled and used again. Our thick cardboard containers obviously are required.

But what happens if the powers- that-be start to charge?

People will simply burn more if they have a garden, polluting the atmosphere, while the amount of rubbish going out to the bin for weekly collection will increase enormously as people try to hide the stuff that the council does not want them to dump. And without doubt, fly tipping will increase.

Just look around and you will see beside field gates and country lay-bys the evidence that the winter fly-tippers have been busy.

I spotted the remains of a vaccuum cleaner at the start of one country walk, while flagstones and other rubbish had been dumped in a country lay-by. With charges, it will only increase. One hopes that this never comes on the agenda for Northumberland County Council, but every day seems to bring an increase of some sort to hammer those who can least afford it.

It was reported this week that the coalition government is to drop the regulations where people can be fined for such things as not closing their bins lids, putting out a plastic bag with the bin, not taking their bin in or putting it out other than on the appointed day.

That is good news if it gets rid of petty rules which have no place when you are trying to encourage people to sensible and get their rubbish out rather than just dump it.

On the other hand, the same news report said that the Government was also considering the idea of dropping fines for all but serious cases of fly-dumping.

That, if true, would be a bad move. What is wrong with fining all fly-tippers? They deserve it.

THE excellent weather has got me out and about in recent days and I find that there is still much work to do for the Gazette ’Scoop The Poop’ campaign.

One thing I have noticed is that on country walks, some owners actually take the bother to scoop their pets’ poop into a bag and then dump it.

Now I know that some people do it at the start of a walk and collect on the way back, but the last thing we want is dog mess lying around for any length of time.

The law is pretty straight forward – your dog does its business and you pick it up. Immediately.