When all this is over there will be the pandemic heroes and then there will be the zeros. Of course at the top of the table will be the front-line health and care workers who have had to confront the virus head on.
They’ll be followed closely by all the other key workers who often don’t get the plaudits in industries such as food retail, haulage, IT, utilities, finance and many more.
Sitting close to the bottom of the table – I’m sorry to say – just above the teaching unions will be local councils. I personally know many people who work in the public sector and they are all decent and as hard working as the rest of the general population but there must be something about the culture which sucks out any semblance of ‘can do’.
Within hours of the lockdown my district council suspended the green waste service and then not long afterwards the county council closed the tip. In normal times our local tip was closed most days of the week, had short opening hours and was staffed by just a few very surly, unhelpful workers.
I could see little justification for the initial closure as surely waste disposal is an ‘essential’ service and is done by single households in a safe, socially distant way. Its closure at the time when it was needed most was particularly frustrating with millions of people stuck at home with little else to do but create waste through gardening and clearing junk.
Worst of all – and I know this is just a first world problem and am aware that I spend far too much of my time very grumpy these days – the closure happened the day after I’d filled up my camper van with junk in readiness for a tip trip. There it has now stayed for the two months of the lockdown.
Last week on the orders of central government our local council announced it was reopening its tips from yesterday. I was pleased to see that in expectation of the pent up demand they had decided to open seven days a week though the opening hours of just 9.15am to 4.15pm seemed somewhat begrudging.
Anyway yesterday I thought I’d head over there campervan full in rubbish, me empty in expectation. I was prepared to queue for hours and had my mobile and newspaper at hand so I’d have something to occupy me as I waited.
To my initial but fleeting joy there was not a car to be seen as I approached the tip’s entrance, just a council worker sat in a chair sunning himself next to a few menacing ‘Enforcement in Action’ signs. As I got nearer I could see other signs were informing me that you had to pre-book a delivery slot. I pulled over and thought I could do that now as clearly with no one around there must be slots available.
Predictably the booking system was complex. There was nothing on the home page that told you what you had to do, then it became clear you had to set up an account which was going to take too long to do on my mobile phone.
Disconsolately I trundled back home in my camper van, fired up the laptop, completed the account set-up, went through the booking process, clicked various promising links only to be returned back to the initial booking page.
Eventually I found a message that said the site was suspended due to a technical issue with the booking system. There was a customer service number but you were told not to ring. The issue was due to be resolved yesterday, the message stated, but the site is still not working this morning.
So, after two months of an unnecessary closure the tip is now open and staffed but despite the pent up demand of tens of thousands you are not allowed to visit unless you’ve booked a slot which you can’t do. What a rubbish service! What an absolute shambles!