Wednesday 2 September 2009

Mail gets hysterical about wheelie bins again

The Daily Quail has asked if the Mail is suffering from split personality disorder after a series of recent changes of heart. And he may be on to something.

First thing this morning, the Mail was on its high horse about wheelie bins again - and it was the lead story on the website. Eleven hours later, this story has been reduced to a two-line link under another, which goes to show even the Mail doesn't think it's up to much.

£500 fine if you put out wheelie bin on the wrong day is, as usual, a totally misleading headline. It makes it sound as if you will be fined £500 if you put your bin out on the wrong day.

But that's a considerable exaggeration. The story says:

Families could face fines of more than £500 for breaking wheelie bin rules.

Draconian new town hall tactics mean every adult in a household is hit with a £110 fine, rather than just one.

A family including an adult couple, two children over 18 and a grandparent could, in theory, be hit with five fines totalling £550.

Although in Mail-land every house would be a married hetero couple, stay-at-home-past-18 kids AND their Granny, that's probably not that common a set-up. Indeed, the only example of someone being fined they have produced is a £440 one, and that's a student house.

In Cambridge, who the Mail accuses, a representative states that no house is fined over £110 in total.

The Mail disingenuously claims that sex offenders only have to pay fines of £285

although these are often imposed alongside other punishments.

Yes, like jail. Hardly a fair comparison.

In fact, once again, the truth of the story is revealed late on in a quote from the accused - a spokesman from Leicester City Council, which it is worth quoting at length:

'Our city wardens give letters and information to householders where bins are left outside.

'They follow up with letters or visits, to give advice and explain the need to take in bins. If the situation persists, we try to establish whether there are particular problems stopping people bringing in their bins, so we can advise or help.

'If they still fail to remove their bins, legal notices are sent to every resident over 18 at a property, warning them they have 21 days to bring in their bins or face fines.

'We issue fines only if all these steps fail to resolve the problem.'

So it's not as if you put your bin out a wrong day and you are instantly fined, as the Mail led everyone to believe. Transgressors are visited, written to, and then given 21 days to sort the problem. If someone can't be arsed to drag their own bin in off the pavement within three weeks, then there clearly is a problem.

The Leicester spokesman suggested bins left out were blocking pavements and being set on fire. As the Mail's hilariously inept Not In My Backyard anti-wheelie campaign raised the spectre of arson attacks on bins and was based largely on how ugly they think the bins are it seems curious that measures to get them off the pavements, out of sight, and possibly away from troublemakers with matches, are now a bad thing.

But one thing never changes at the Mail: ludicrous scare stories to get Middle England riled.

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