The system, which has already been introduced to Tooting and Balham town centres is fairly straight-forward – basically businesses will need to fulfil their legal duty to have a trade waste agreement (it’s amazing how many businesses don’t, leaving the council to collect their illegally dumped rubbish) and will only be allowed to dump their rubbish during two defined, two-hour slots – one during the day and one during the evening.

The system is remarkably simple but, I think, something of an innovation. It really cuts down on the amount of rubbish on streets by helping minimise the time from it being put out to being collected.

It’s made a huge difference to Tooting and Balham’s streets, and the council has learnt from the implementation in both, so it hopefully won’t be long until it’s making a difference in Clapham Junction as well.

For a few years we were a two fridge family. This was, I have no hesitation in confessing, extravagant and bad for the environment. It was also entirely unintentional.

When we moved to our current house we, of course, brought a lot of stuff with us, including our own fridge freezer. We’d failed to appreciate that the previous owners had one ‘fitted’ in the kitchen and were leaving it. Finding ourselves with two fridges we did what any self-respecting couple who like to pretend they have an active social life would do: we had a drinks fridge.

To be fair there wasn’t that much else we could do. It was firmly wedged in (as I discovered when I finally had no choice but to remove it, which I could only do by also removing chunks of the kitchen) and we never had enough confidence that it was cool enough to store anything that might go off and poison us – it was probably past it when we inherited it. But it was great for storing all those best served chilled products, and meant we never had to choose whether we kept vodka or fish fingers in the freezer.

But all good things must come to an end and, after a brief period standing in when our ‘proper’ fridge died it too came to the end of its long and faithful service.

After somehow getting it out of the cupboard that had been fitted around it we called the council and arranged for a bulk item collection and, until they were due to take it left the old fellow in the front garden.

And from there he was stolen.

Someone came into our front garden and took it. What’s worse is that it was right up against our front window and we were in when it happened, but despite the size and the awkwardness of it they managed to take it without us noticing.

Now to a degree I don’t really care. While we’d paid the council to take it, the net result is that it was taken, it’s neither here nor there how it went. And it was a really manky fridge. It had been left for a while after it died and scary things had started growing in it (which also made me glad we’d pretty much only ever used it for liquids that were not only in sealed containers but also had antiseptic properties.)

What does annoy me is that it would have been taken by someone who will probably take out the cooling pipes – which apparently have a scrap value – and then fly-tip the remains. And that it was, technically, theft – it was on my property and taken by someone who did not have permission. Not that I’m going to report it.

But it’s also a lesson about home security. And here comes the morale of my tale, like He-Man at the end of an episode… That someone managed to remove a large, cumbersome fridge, fairly inconveniently placed in our garden, without us noticing while we were in the house rather suggests that if it had been something valuable left near an open window that could easily have gone too. The crime reports I publish currently have too many burglaries made possible by doors and windows left open because of the hot weather, and if my fridge is anything to go by, it’s not hard for thief to take advantage of the smallest opportunity.

It’s amazing to think that one of the highest rated councils in the country with the lowest council tax, wastes money on jargon. But it does.

Like hundreds of other councils Wandsworth pays an annual subscription to the Local Government Association (LGA). The LGA, according to their website “is a voluntary lobbying organisation, acting as the voice of the local government sector, and an authoritative and effective advocate on its behalf” and “promotes the interests of English and Welsh local authorities”. In fact, with 424 members, most of the country’s local government is a member.

Today they released their annual list of banned words that councils shouldn’t use. It’s an annual event – last year I found myself sticking up for coterminosity – but one they seemingly never learn from since once again the media, from the BBC to the Daily Mail, have leapt on it for a bit of council bashing.

But are these words really used by councils or councillors?

Last year the late, and missed, Jack Pickard did a bit of research to show that, actually, councils weren’t guilty of over-using jargon and, in fact, the LGA were often the guilty people.

Just looking at their list and using as an indicator:

  • Trialogue Not a single council returned in the first five pages of results.
  • Wellderly Not a single council returned in the first five pages of results. (Although Harriet Harman features heavily.)
  • Goldfish bowl facilitated conversation Two councils in the first five pages of results, but only because they were carried a feed, featuring the phrase, from the BBC website.
  • Tonality Not a single council returned in the first five pages of results.
  • Webinar Not a single council returned in the first five pages of results.
  • Under-capacitated Not a single council returned in the first five pages of results.
  • Clienting Not a single council returned in the first five pages of results.
  • Disbenefits One council, Surrey, appears in the first five pages of results.

I’m not suggesting that none of these words and phrases have ever been used by any council. But if these new words were being bandied around by Town Halls they’d manifest in Google through one of their websites, press releases or leaflets, but only one council turned up in the 400 results.

It’s hard to decide where to begin with this. For a start, there seems to be be some sort of inverse snobbery with some of these (like coterminosity, I think disbenefit is a perfectly good word). Plain language is all well and good, but when it over-reaches and starts to strip out perfectly valid English I can’t help but be reminded of Orwell’s Newspeak. And that’s doubleplusungood.

And while I can’t remember hearing any of these phrases in councils, it is perfectly valid for jargon to be used internally, it’s how professionals communicate with other professionals (would you expect a surgeon to talk in theatre in plain English?) and as these don’t appear to be creeping into the outside world that’s not a problem.

But because the Local Government Association have published the list, everyone assumes that it’s a local government issue. So despite the LGA’s qualifier that it’s a problem across the public sector the papers that have picked up the story have gone with the council angle. The Daily Mail says: “Welcome to the world of local government gobbledegook” and even CNN have got in on the act telling readers “councils ordered to quit jargon.”

And that’s what gets me most of all. An organisation that is meant to stand up for councils, and is paid by hundreds of them to do just that, once a year persists in giving a stick to the media with which to beat councils.

…well, not at all really but last night’s Environment and Leisure Committee considered a report on a trial of pyrolysis in two of our council blocks.

I’m slightly surprised this hasn’t seen more coverage (as far as I’m aware it’s never been reported outside of the council’s formal meetings) since it’s a fairly innovative way of dealing with household waste – although apparently it’s been used on submarines for years.

Pyrolysis, essentially (and unscientifically) is burning without oxygen so there is no fire. The process creates a dust that can be washed away with waste water through the drains. Remaining items, like glass and metal can be recycled. This has potentially huge environmental benefits, from reducing the number of refuse vehicles on the road, through to minimising the amount of landfill needed.

The two test sites were a success, proving that it is a viable technology but identifying a few problems or issues that need to be resolved. It’s now for the manufacturer, PyroPure, to go away and work up their prototypes into a commercial product.

If your New Year’s Resolution was to read more council reports the latest update is contained within the agenda to last night’s meeting.