The council failed to collect Christmas trees for the second week running in Shaftesbury Ward.

My children are actually quite pleased about this. They were sad to see the tree leave the house, so being able to walk past so many on their way to school each day has been a small compensation for them. However, it does create problems. Many block the pavements, leaving then inaccessible for those with mobility problems or pushchairs, and they tend to attract fly-tipping.

There is, of course, a degree to which people should be considerate in disposing of their trees, but after the council’s heavy publicity of the Christmas tree collection (and warning of fines for people who dumped trees) it was not unreasonable for residents to leave trees out with their usual refuse in the expectation they would be collected.

I took this up with the council last week (but have not yet had a response, as an opposition councillor their target for replying to me is two weeks). I have chased them up again for what it’s worth. It seems to have been a problem across the borough, so I don’t know how rapidly they might be able to respond and suspect Shaftesbury is low down on their political priority list.

I’ve also written to Jonathan Cook, the cabinet member responsible. He is also one of the ward councillors for Shaftesbury. I’m sure he is already aware of it, but thought it worth writing just in case he’s not visited the ward recently.

If you haven’t noticed (and I fear many haven’t) the council’s refuse collections are changing from next week.

The changes are a result of the council’s new collection contract. Many of the changes will not directly affect residents. Those that will include changing the collection method, so general waste and recycling can be taken together (meaning you won’t see the recycling linger after the rest has been collected), the return of garden waste collection (so you don’t have to either pay or take it to the tip yourself) and Putney residents will no longer be woken by a collection on a Saturday morning.

And that will result in the biggest change, since now the whole borough will be collected over five days (from Monday to Friday) instead of over six days (from Monday to Saturday).
Obviously it isn’t possible to lose Saturday collections in Putney without rejigging collections elsewhere, the effect is different from place to place but in Shaftesbury collection day changes from Thursday to Wednesday.

Extra resources are being put in place for the transition period, since there will inevitably be confusion to begin, but obviously the more people who get it right from the start the easier that transition will be: not least because many people rely on the ‘nudge’ of seeing their neighbours putting out rubbish to remind them to put out their own.

You can find out your new collection day on the council’s website.

Happy New Year.

And a reminder, now that twelfth night is approaching, that the council is once again recycling Christmas trees.

On normal collection days from tomorrow (5 January) until 18 January trees will be collected free of charge, then shredded to become compost.

It’s impossible not to notice trees starting to litter the streets, they should only be put out the evening before collection, and even then not on the street unless there is no other option – the council will collect trees (and your normal rubbish and recycling) from your front garden so there’s never any need to block the pavement.