Trash Deluge hits Exeter: Blame the Students


I know Exeter isn’t the only place in the UK having, shall we say, a bit of a tough time of it lately in respect of their rubbish collections, but what the heck.

Paraphrasing the story I stumbled across on This Is Exeter, it seems the December snowfall, Christmas bank holidays and the council’s ever-increasing fears about being sued as a result of accidents caused by an out-of-control dustcart, have culminated in a perfect storm of trash - which is obliterating the city. I believe Exeter is now well on the way to be being buried under sackfuls of the stuff.

Being ever mindful of litigation myself, perhaps there’s a business opportunity here for personal injury firms to solicit pedestrians who have suffered the misfortune of tripping and falling over the bags of trash on the streets.  Should PI lawyers now start following dustcarts rather than ambulances, to look for business?

Anyhow, the article itself was pretty ho-hum but it was the comments further down which really caught my eye.

From This is Exeter 31/12/10:

Areas of St James and Mount Pleasant were among the worst hit when the council was forced to withdraw collections because of the weather.

But the authority has been sharply criticised for not starting up collections as soon as the thaw began, and failing to let people know about when rubbish would be picked up.

Caroline Lee, of St James, said student areas were the most affected.

“I am afraid to let my children walk around some streets here because it is so disgusting,” she said. “The students put out their rubbish before leaving for Christmas and the collection was cancelled so it has been there for nearly a month.”

Ah, those damn students. Let’s see what some of the comments had to say. In particular, a one R. James said:

This is nothing to do with the weather, ECC or the guys in the trucks..its [sic] about an unintelligent, inconsiderate and unwelcome underclass living in a city they care nothing about, and in which they have created a filthy noisy ghetto...UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Ouch! Isn’t that a bit harsh? What would R. James rather students do - let it pile up inside their halls and homes festering?  In fact, I’m surprised R. James thought students would have the time to put rubbish out; surely they would be too busy having sex and doing drugs or urinating on war memorials for that?

Thankfully, an anonymous commenter leapt to the students’ defence:

...Why are the students being blamed, most left well before the snow came, so are not ... in Exeter. This is the residents trashing their own neighbourhood, shame on them! Oh it's refuse, not refuge...

Oh deary me – there was quite a lot of bitching back and forth on the grammatical boob of confusing refuse with refuge.

In particular, a reader (Sue) who is “related to a refuse collector which is employed by ECC” (fancy that) took umbrage. Sue wanted to “correct some of the idiotic points on the comments board” and, to be honest, good on her for trying.

I loved her swipe at a fellow commenter, David, who held some rather forthright and none-too-complimentary views on Exeter City Council:

...Now to Dear David, 31-Dec-2010, 13:17. Well then sweetie, a refuge is a place of safety, I do believe my sweet you check you dictionary as I think you meant ‘refuse’ which means rubbish and so on.

Oooh. Meowwwww!

There were a lot of strained exchanges about the merits of snow chains, snow tyres and the turning circle of 26 ton trash lorries, as well as whether councils made use of smaller vehicles to collect rubbish. Plus there was the guy who firmly believed the city council was in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for encouraging residents to put their trash out for collection and then failing to collect it. It all made very entertaining reading!!

Just as an aside, I was rather tickled during my stay in Philadelphia when I realised they enjoy a twice weekly trash collection! (Ooh, I wonder how THAT would go down with the residents of Exeter at the moment!!) 

Be right back

And I was thinking: couldn’t Santa have done everyone a favour and collected up the trash lying about outside people’s homes when he passed over the UK on the 24th December? He must have had plenty of room in his sleigh having delivered all those presents, after all.


  1. I don't know what it's like in Philly, but in many parts of the US, rubbish is not collected by the city/county council. Households have to contract with private companies to get their rubbish collected. This might account for the twice a week collection schedule.

  2. Nah, I don't believe that's the case in Philly, Beth. I guess they've just got a load more space for landfill... ;-)


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