Gary Strachan – "Write" Said Fred

Off The Wall Essays From Deep Within A Capricious Mind

Ask Not What Your…..

Tomorrow is green bin day in Leeds 15. I’m aware that detail is of (a) no use if you don’t live in the LS15 postcode area, and (b) not that interesting even if you do; however I really am struggling for a blog topic today.

Inclusion of refuse collection information undertaken after concluding transcription of any prose onto this chaste page may ignite a blue touch paper of inspiration. Setting flow to an oasis of creative juices currently rendered arid as a Saharan landscape.

Although tedious, my domestic waste management directive was well-meaning – Produced as it was from a baseline of positivity. It’s contents aimed at stirring my creative thoughts/words, in association with jogging the memories of Leeds city council customers viz-a-viz schedules for environmental health services.

My agenda certainly not to stir the reader into vitriolic personal diatribes aimed at local government. Negative Council Tax payers admonishments akin to Holmfirth man Exeter Troutshaft who last winter ranted via carrier pigeon:-

My green bin is chocka, unlike Gary Strachan in Leeds 15 who receives adequate refuse recycle support …. Damn you Kirklees council for your inconvenient collection schedules and the misspelling of my wife Philanthropia’s name on the Council Tax bill….. Additionally, can you sort out the number of pot holes on Holmfirth road surfaces. This neglected infrastructure damage impairing older townsfolk’s adrenaline rushes manifested from racing down dale in a bath tub!”

Talking of the Council Tax ‘contract’ we English, Scots and Welsh ‘enjoy’ with local government, it always intrigues me how one-sided this binding agreement appears to be. This ‘contract’ decreeing that in return for council services, such as street lighting, refuse collections, provision of policing/fire services etc, each household pays a not insignificant yearly taxation to the council in return.

Although a considerable financial outgoing, most sensible individuals generally understand local government should be reimbursed for providing those services. That being said, I do have a problem with the structure of this ‘contract’. Not one I lose sleep over (unless I drink loads of coffee while mulling it over), but nevertheless an issue that slightly irks me.

My cage rattled by the fact, under this two party agreement, if Council Tax is withheld from our local service providers in extreme cases it’s possible for the debtor to receive a custodial sentence.

Yet, should one of the local government services not be fulfilled, ie a missed refuse collection, the maximum consequence for the responsible department head is merely the future facilitation of twice monthly Avon cosmetic parties….…. Thrice monthly if the unfulfilled tasks relate to bedding plant misdemeanours.

I know it’s not easy these days for local government administrators. Their remits from on high (TV astrologer Russell Grant) being to cut costs in time for the financial Armageddon Russ predicts post-Brexit….. Although to be honest I don’t think you need to be an astrologer to forecast that particular economic nugget.

During the last decade of austerity in local and national government it kinda feels that, despite rhetoric to the contrary, the customer is no longer king……. “The customer king is dead!…. Long live the austerity king!”

Intentional or not, it seems both government entities are no longer here to serve the people. Instead their remit is predominantly seeking strategies for clawing back some of the money their paymasters lost during 2008’s global financial meltdown.

I’d like to paraphrase a section of John F Kennedy’s Presidential Inauguration speech, in January 1961, to express the plateau I feel council mantra currently sit:-

“Ask not what your local government can do for you….. Ask what you can do for your local government.”

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Categories: Blogs, fiction, humour

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