The annual Croydon festival of Stick Your Old Christmas Tree On The Pavement is all set to begin next week, with the prospect of it lasting for longer than in previous years.
Epiphany – the day to mark when the three wise men showed up at a stable in Palestine some time around 2,000 years ago and invented the baby shower – is on January 6, this coming Wednesday. And by tradition, all festive decorations, including the tree, are supposed to be taken down and boxed away, or the householders risk 12 months of bad luck (though most will look back on 2020 and think, “What could possibly be worse?”).
Croydon Council is again offering an excellently green service of collecting and chipping old trees (make the most of it: like the free bulky waste collection, it’s unlikely this will survive the cuts come 2022).
But the council’s rubbish contractors Veolia won’t be removing trees from the borough’s highways until January 18 – a full 12 days after the roadside forest of dead pines starts to appear.
January 18 is five days later than the service began in 2020 (January 13) and four later than in 2019 (January 14).
Going by previous annual calendars, Veolia might have been expected to begin its 2021 Christmas tree recycling service on January 11 – the first Monday after most decorations come down.
No one at the council has twigged (geddit?) that this means that the borough’s pavements will be littered with abandoned spruces, effectively council-endorsed seasonal fly-tipping, for an extra seven days. Worse, Veolia say that it could take up to two weeks for them to get round to collecting up all the discarded trees – almost taking us into February.
And to think Veolia had their contract value hiked by cash-strapped Croydon Council by £21million as recently as September 2020.
“It doesn’t make it a bad service per se,” a Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon.
“But it looks very much like no council official, such as the very well-paid and over-promoted Steve Iles, did anything as basic as check their diary when signing off on when Veolia should start the service.
“Along with the collection leaflet debacle, it is just more costly bungling.”
In a council press release, issued last month, the council said, “From January 18 we will also be offering you the chance to ‘tree-cycle’ by collecting your unwanted real Christmas trees for free. If you put your tree out from that date it will be collected within two weeks.”
The instructions to householders are clear and obvious enough: “Simply remove all the decorations and place your tree as close to the front boundary of your property as possible, making sure it is visible from the pavement, without blocking access or the pavement.” Of course, this would be terrific if it this in any way reflected reality. But in many cases, the trees will end up abandoned on the pavements.
If you don’t fancy clogging up the roadside, there is an alternative.
“Once the festivities are over,” said the council, “you can also take your real Christmas tree to be recycled at one of the council’s household reuse and recycling centres.” Make thee most of that while you can, too: the council is considering closing down at least one of the borough’s three dumps.
And, “If you subscribe to our garden waste collection service you can cut it up and put it in your garden waste bin.” In other words, do yourself the work that you pay the local authority to do for you. Anyone want to take any short odds-on bets on whether there will be an increase in fees for the green garden waste service? Nah, thought not…
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