Having just blogged on Taiwan’s musical garbage trucks it looks as if I’m about to get mired in muck.

Today’s online Guardian newspaper quotes Communities Secretary of State Eric Pickles on the link between council tax and waste collection (they do get up to exciting stuff these Westminster politicians, don’t they?)

We need to remember that rubbish is the most visible and most frontline service of all in return for what they now pay – the best part of £120 a month in council tax.

If we don’t sort it out I think the cause of localism will be set back by a generation by creating an army of residents who view their council with resentment rather than respect. There is genuine anger that over the last decade council taxes have doubled and bin collections have halved.

Whoa Eric, chill out, how magnificently can you miss several points at once?

  1. Council tax is not a fee paid for the delivery of personal services to the individual tax payer.  It is a general tax that funds all the legitimate purposes of local government, just as income tax funds all the legitimate purposes of central government.  This sort of stuff feeds people’s mis-apprehension about this fact
  2. Halved bin collections are not a symptom of declining service, as you well know.  They are a direct response to the sustainability agenda and are invariably associated with recycling collections
  3. The cause of localism is more likely to be set back by UK politicians dabbling in the detail of local services than in the holding to account of local politicians by their electorate.

That’s it.

This post is tagged England. As UK readers will know Eric Pickles’ remit for local government does not extend to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.