Bins, Bins, Bins

Everything lately has been covid19 related but I would like to see our council in the borough of Tunbridge Wells get back to basics. The town is just looking a little shabby and, while it’s nice to see the new paving in the centre of Tunbridge Wells and the flower boxes which have become a regular feature, it would be nice to see the council fulfil their basic services. That includes pavements, bins and streetlights.

I returned to Tunbridge Wells in 2004 and one of my regular gripes is the bins. It’s brilliant that we now have recycling of a variety of materials, including textiles, food and batteries, but I regularly have to put in a complaint to the council to say that the bins of one description or another have not been picked up. Last week it was the orange and black food recycling bins and, looking up our street, there were at least a dozen such bins which had not been collected, nor were they in the list published by the council of the streets which had been forgotten. After a long day working with clients with care and support needs, as well as their families and our CAREGivers, the last thing I want to spend my time on is reporting bins and yet, that is what I have to do on a regular basis if I want my bins collected.

Tired of the situation, I put a Freedom of Information request into the council to provide me with the information of bins missed by street for the last decade. The council were unable to provide me with anything but the year 2019 because, they said, that’s when they changed contracts.

A quick viewing of the information tells me that some areas are worse hit than others. Obviously, one would expect to see more misses on long streets – one area being missed on one occasion and another on the next, etc. but there are areas which are particularly badly hit, mine included. I can only think that, in their enthusiasm to gain the contract, the contractors decided to reduce the number of person hours needed to collect the bins, forgot to include holiday or sick time or some other anomaly which means that they don’t have the staff or the trucks or the means to collect ALL the bins ALL the time.

I wondered how this would work in social care and pondered my situation. If I don’t have a CAREGiver to complete a call, I do it myself. How would this work with the bins? Would the office staff turn out to collect the bins which needed collecting? Would they be trained to do so?

Thursday the bins were collected. Hurrah! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, don’t keep asking our residents to report missed bins, potholes, streetlights that don’t go on or off at the correct times, etc. etc. Find a way to ensure that they are dealt with in a timely fashion. Hire inspectors if you need to but, after somebody has reported something once or twice, don’t just keep flipping them an email which states that the contractor has 4 days or 21 days to do something about it. Above all, don’t tell the public to email somebody else to report something. Take responsibility. PLEASE. Save our sanity!

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Politics in UK Not Fit for Purpose

The Liberal Democrats will today lead a debate in the House of Commons calling for a “radical overhaul” of Westminster politics, warning it is “not for purpose” to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
 
The debate - the first in the House of Commons chamber on electoral reform since 2016 – will be led by Liberal Democrat Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain.
 
The North East Fife MP is expected to declare that Westminster’s broken political system is shutting out people who “need their voices heard now more than ever” during the coronavirus pandemic.
 
The Liberal Democrats will use the debate to call on other political parties to join them in getting behind change and reforming the way people elect MPs with a proportional voting system.
 
Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain said:
 
“If the last three years have shown politics isn’t working for people then the coronavirus crisis has made it clearer than ever that reform is needed.
 
“Covid-19 has exposed the political culture in Westminster as not fit for purpose. Our democracy doesn't need piecemeal change, it needs a radical overhaul.
 
“Over the coming months and years we’re going to face numerous issues as we seek to overcome and recover from the coronavirus crisis. We need to work together – yet our Westminster politics is adversarial and divisive.
 
“Simply put, that means the true variety of the electorate’s voices are not heard. Many of those people are the same people who need their voices heard now more than ever. It’s time all parties got behind change.”

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Government Must Get to Grips with COVID19 to Prevent Further Deaths

Responding to the figures published by the ONS showing that there have been more than 44,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson, Munira Wilson, said:

"Hearing that the number or coronavirus-related deaths is now more than 44,000, including 9,980 deaths which took place in care homes in England and Wales, the British public will rightly be appalled. 

"The Government has failed to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society from coronavirus. For Ministers to keep trying to claim they put a 'protective ring' around care homes is not only false, but will be regarded by many as only adding further insult to all those grieving the loss of a loved one.

"Government Ministers must now be frank with the British public. They must not only explain how this was allowed to happen under their watch, but how they are going to ensure that we step up the level of protective equipment as well as the system to test, trace and isolate so that they can get a grip on the crisis and prevent further deaths."

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