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TOOTLING around Birmingham in the Tyndale jalopy - an activity I can assure you is always undertaken for business rather than pleasure - is seldom an edifying experience.

The offences to the eye are many and various as a chap sits silently fuming in one of the traffic jams that snarl up the city's roads seemingly from dawn to dusk (and probably during the dark hours, too).

The dilapidated nature of many fine old buildings is punctuated only by the drab concrete blocks that have sprung up like boils on a bedridden drunk's backside.

There are loutish drunks and leary lads (of both genders) slouching around.

There are parked cars and vans causing mayhem because the drivers have ignored yellow lines and the jobsworth traffic wardens are elsewhere finding easier targets.

And amid all this, of course, there is the litter, which neatly brings me to the latest addition to Birmingham's gruesome landscape.

No longer are our eyes offended only takeaway packaging, soft drink cans, beer bottles, swirling paper, dumped mattresses and abandoned fridges.

Many roadsides are now lined by bags containing garden waste left by householders who are either too dense to know such stuff is no longer collected by Birmingham City Council or live in the forlorn hope that if they leave it out long enough, the authority will relent and pick it up free.

Either way, these things are ugly and, as the weather warms up and ferments the green stuff inside the plastic sacks, will become smellier than a week-old left-over curry.

Perhaps more depressingly though, they represent in vegetal form an attitude that is widespread and damaging.

Too many people want something for nothing and are just plain lazy.

They believe that they have a right to all manner of free public services irrespective of the fact that local and national government's coffers are empty.

For pity's sake, at a time when crucial services are being cut do they really think that the council should collect their grass clippings and wilted daffodils free of charge? Those who have left out the bags might cough nervously and say they did not know the system had changed.

Excuse me if I remain unconvinced by their protestations for the publicity has been widespread and the debate heated.

Only a gardener whose head has been buried in his compost heap for the past six months can have failed to have heard of this spring's changes.

The truth is that most of those leaving out these bags - or the more socially-concicious folk who take their rubbish to the tip and endure long traffic queues - are simply too niggardly to fork out a paltry PS35 a year to have their garden waste collected.

The most petty among them have even been heard to whinge: "But what about the leaves that fall into our gardens from the council's trees on the street? Why should we pick up those?" To them I have a simple answer: because those trees make the outlook from your house and garden pleasant and make Birmingham a greener and better place.

To use the contemporary vernacular, gardeners need to man-up to their responsibilities and wise-up to the financial predicament that faces this country.

Cough up the 35 quid to the council - it is easier than that drive to the tip and better than expecting someone else to clear up the mess you have created.

It is your city. Look after it.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 4, 2014
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