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Recycle, Upcycle but not in Bexley

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again now – recycling or upcycling as the trendy are now saying makes a lot of sense. Rather than spending money and resources on something new, if possible, putting someone’s rubbish to the task is just common sense.

Anything that goes into the waste bin is a defeat to me. Food waste will go into the hot composter to grow more food, scrap wood and old pallets nearly always come in useful at some time and in the worst case get converted into heat in our stove and thence to potash rich ashes for the garden.

On my allotment in Crewe I had the legs off some stools which made great anti-pigeon netting supports. Old windows become cloches or part of coldframes. Broken shelving units could be repaired and have a new life in a shed even if no longer nice enough to sit in the lounge.

Even today, doing some DIY in my cowshed a shelf came off the wall. It turned out that the original Rawlplugs weren’t up to it so I re-drilled, used larger plugs and heftier screws to get it up properly. The old screws and plugs are in the bits box and can be re-used sometime. OK, they’re only worth 20p or so but take 20p out of your pocket and throw it away. No? So why should I chuck 20p’s worth of bits away?

Anyway, this brings me to an email I’ve received from a London allotment holder with a plot on a site managed by the London Borough of Bexley. They’ve changed the rules and start, as is often the bureaucratic way, by shifting the blame to ‘elf ‘n’ safety’

The council has an obligation to ensure that all persons are reasonably safe on its allotments. This requires that we remove any obvious hazards. That duty extends to ensuring that extraneous and dangerous items are not brought onto site. Items not intended for horticulture are often inappropriate.

Sounds fairly reasonable so far. Don’t bring dangerous things onto the site. Can’t really argue with that. But then it continues…

We can no longer permit tenants to use or take onto the allotment site any recycled materials, other than timber. Timber is permitted as it is the primary material used by horticulturists to build a myriad of structures and it can be burnt or will eventually degrade.

They include a list of hazardous items –

…all metal frames, individual metal stakes, all carpet, all plastic sheeting including window frames used as cloches, glass, car tyres etc. The council will only permit the use of metal frames if they have been specifically made and sold for Horticultural purposes.

They really don’t get it. OK, nobody wants to see allotments used as rubbish dumps and there are good reasons for not allowing carpet to be used as weed suppressant. Too often it is abandoned and becomes a nightmare removal job.

Plastic sheeting, cloches, glass (like the stuff used in greenhouses) – what are they playing at? Don’t construct your own metal frame – you’ve got to go and spend money even if you’re perfectly capable of constructing one.

To me this is an example of the worst allotment management. It goes against that great recycling tradition that allotment holders here uphold so well. It’s written by people who can only blindly follow rules and not apply common sense. The ‘computer says no’ attitude we come across more and more.

Guidelines are useful but too often rules are written for the benefit of those who apply them rather than those they apply to.

Still, as I get older, I get grumpier and more resentful of the jobsworths. You know who I mean – they spend their time covering their backs and following the rules to the letter rather than risking actually thinking. Maybe it’s just me – what do you think?

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary, Rants and Raves
4 comments on “Recycle, Upcycle but not in Bexley
  1. Jenny says:

    I totally agree. Recycling is a fundamental part of allotmenteering. I tend to be a bit scornful of people who always buy instead of make. on our allotment we’re not allowed carpets or anything they term as ‘rubbish’. Sadly this is driven by other plot holders who like to complain and interfere .

  2. James Gillett says:

    Hi John
    I will let you know how the inspectors get on this week.
    We have dug the trenches ready lol


  3. shaun says:


    Do you think blackberries and gooseberries are a H&S violation? Prickly little buggers!

    And spades! Oh my god, forks! And raised beds that have those sharp things called nails and screws that hold these weapons of mass destruction together!!

    Call MI5! The sheer horror!

  4. Rob says:

    Fair enough on carpets, when i took over my plot I must of dug up an entire carpet shop worth and anyone who has dug up carpet knows what a right pain in the backside that stuff is, however, I don’t complain to the council about it, it’s all part of scene.
    Makes me wonder how long it will be before I receive a letter like this, once one council does it the rest will slowly follow.

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