Tuesday fun – Walsall Council and interesting statistics

Nothing too serious but one for the ‘surely that can’t be right’ department.

Got the latest edition of ‘Walsall Pride’ through the door today. For those not aware, this is the council funded publication that Walsall MBC knock out to tell us how wonderful the place is with the usual array of smiling Tory councillors. (no sign of a single Labour or LibDem one in this edition, they usually at least throw in the odd token one)

This one appears to be a ‘special edition’ telling us what the local council is doing to help people with the recession, stuff like implementing schemes set up by the erm, *cough* Labour government.

I do like the emphasis in the first paragraph, “In this era of uncertainty created by the national economic downturn” – like no mention of the fact it’s a global recession or anything but you’ve got to hand it to the munchkins at the Walsall Press Office for that neat bit of wording, very clever.

I also couldn’t help noticing the statement from Councillor John O’Hare (leader of the council and a Tory) of course. “Short-term, high impact and easy to implement measures are needed right now by Walsall’s residents and businesses coping in some extremely difficult times.”

‘Short-term high impact” is he some kind of Keynesian geezer or something? I’d hate to think what old Cammers boy would think of Tory council leaders espousing such views. Actually I’d love to know what O’Hare actually means by this.

Are we talking extended public service related stuff like support and all that hideous old dogmatic socialist crap that involved y’know employing people in the public sector to do stuff? Can’t quite see how that fits with the Tories national argument that there’s like, all these public employees sitting around knitting and the like.

Or are we talking about sticking cold hard cash into business through loans and the like (of which there are a few examples contained within the publication) which strikes me as a good old bit of Keynesian economics which I like thought, y’know, the Tories didn’t really dig.

OK, party political things aside and back to the genesis of this post.

On page 18 and you can find it in the online edition here. (PDF) By the way, if that link doesn’t work, do let me know, looking at it they’re on version 3 of the publication so perhaps they may be amending it as they spot errors. If in doubt, you’ll be able to also get it by going here.

So what we’re dealing with is the claim on page 18 that states (in relation to reducing waste and saving energy) “A dripping tap can waste 500,000 litres or £400 a year.”

Let’s just deal with the cost. As these parts are served by private monopolist, Severn Trent water this is easy. According to their charging structure and forgetting sewage costs and standing charges (on a meter the sewage cost would bump the figure up even more) they charge 130.06p per cubic metre of water. So 500,000 litres wouldn’t be £400, it would be £650.30.

So apart from potty prices there’s the original assertion that a dripping tap wastes 500,000 litres of water a year.

In a highly unsophisticated scientific experiment of my own involving a clock with a second hand, a two litre bottle of cherry coke (empty of course) I worked out that I can fill said two litre bottle of cherry coke with my tap on full blast in 12 seconds.

That’s 10 litres a minute, 600 litres an hour, 14,400 litres a day or 5,256,000 a year (not leap year). So with my cold water tap (should say that as the pressure is higher on the cold tap than the hot so therefore more water) on full blast I could get through over ten times the amount of water they state.

The only problem being, a tap on full blast does use a tad more than one that is dripping.

Now I’ve had a look around and there are some differing figures from various energy saving organisations and research from universities and the like into the amount that is wasted by a dripping tap but we’re actually looking at somewhere between 4,600 and 5,500 litres a year.

So lets pick say 5,000 litres a year as a nice in between and easy to do figure. At Severn Trent’s prices that would be £6.50.

Now don’t get me wrong, saving water, cutting costs are all things I value highly but £6.50 a year odds on isn’t going to make or break any household or business over the space of a year.

There you go Walsall Council, I even did the research and figures for you, feel free to amend, I won’t charge you for my services.

On a separate note, via Twitter, JimboGunn asks the very pertinent question “ask them how viscous water would have to be for a 16ml drop to form every second?”

Nice one.

Congratulations to Tory controlled Walsall Council

Actually that really should be the EU who’s legislation has managed to drag an area of UK environmental practices into the 20th century* but we’re dealing with the new recycling scheme we’ve got round these parts.

Bit of background. A fortnight ago we got a new wheelie bin. One of those 120 litre ones that is now designated for non-recyclable waste – it’s black btw. The old 240 litre green wheelie bin is now for recyclable waste only and we’re allowed to keep the old green box that was supposed to be for recycling.

Here’s how it should work. The 120 litre bin should be collected on weekly and the 240 litre on a fortnightly basis. All good stuff although I’m curious as to whether the council would have bothered if it weren’t for the EU threatening to impose massive fines on councils but in general terms I like this arrangement as opposed to the previous ‘system’.

Given that Walsall MBC failed to collect my recycling box for the five years I had it and our genuinely positive attitude towards recycling here at Penguin Central I was looking forward to see how the new system would pan out.

A fortnight in and our black bin was collected last week but not the recycling one which is fine because last week we had a couple of bags in it as an overhang of our rubbish that had accumulated before we were able to actually separate everything out. This week we managed to cut our non-recyclables down to a single bag which is pretty good going for a family of four but the recycling bin was getting dangerously close to capacity.

Today’s bin day in our parts and thankfully the recycling bin was emptied. Oddly though, our non-recyclables bin wasn’t. The bin men couldn’t have missed it, it was sitting next to the other bin they emptied so what exactly is all this about? We were promised by my favourite Tory Councillor Rachel Walker who apparently has responsibility for Environment that weekly collections for non-recyclables were guaranteed. If I was in a particularly sarcastic mood I guess I could say this was a case stealth fortnightly collections by the back door but I’m not, they might just have accidentally missed mine.

There is however an important point to this. In a situation where the ability to put out non-recyclables has effectively halved, a missed collection is even more problematic. It is in the end just a good job that we’ve been so good at sorting out our rubbish here which means we’ve still got plenty of space for this week.

That said, I think there should be a little more care taken in how the bins are put back after they’re emptied. The pavements on our road were strewn with bins all over the place this morning which makes me rather glad that I don’t use a wheelchair or motability scooter because I’d have had no chance. It could of course be a clever method of creating temporary chicanes to stop the kids riding their bikes fast on the pavement though.

Well done Tory Walsall council, after 5 years of not collecting my recycling box you’ve managed now not to collect my new non-recycling bin.

*That was deliberate.