Friday, 29 March 2013

Wash and Squash, Stack and Pack


Are recycling bins too small for some families? With collecting being done every two weeks instead of weekly, and say if you have a family of six, the question is being asked, are these bins big enough?

It could be a case of people not squashing down there materials enough, so here's a few of my tips.

I have stood in my recycling bin several times, to squash it down, but of course it isn't practical or safe for everyone to do that. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to end up in hospital. Plastic bottles and cans can be crushed, but if you want to avoid cutting your hands or ruining your shoes, look for a mechanical device. 

There's some wonderful pneumatic or electric can crushers on Youtube at http://j.mp/16lLIvY  if anyone fancies making one. There are many can crushers under a tenner on ebay. http://j.mp/16lLNzE

Other tips:
- Wash and squash, flatten cereal boxes.
- Stack and pack, - some plastic pots will stack, the ones that won't write to the manufacturers and ask them to redesign their products.
- Tear cardboard down to magazine size.
- Don't put recycling in plastic bags - you just create more work in the sorting process.
- If there is a handy piece of hardboard cut to fit on top of the inside of the recycling bin, you could press down on that.

And this can crusher device is just fantastic ... I only wish I could make things like this. Maybe every neighbourhood centre should have one ... !


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Wasted Resources of Empty Garages


I wonder if anyone is looking for a garage in Houghton Regis? 

Two years ago I was told in a Freedom of Information request that Central Bedfordshire Council owned  1,016 garages in Houghton Regis, of which 565 of them were boarded up, and apparently a waiting list of only 25.

Is that not an appalling waste of resources? The ones left derelict seem to attract vandalism, or graffiti,  or worse.

A garage is certainly a safer place for a vehicle, than being left out in the street for all and sundry to tamper with. It's not a great place to leave valuable items unless they are bolted down, or chained to the walls. And police are often repeating crime reduction warnings to make garages more secure, and to secure the contents left in a garage. 

I've heard the argument that most of the garages were built for smaller cars, and are not designed for modern vehicles. Well, I used to park a Mondeo Estate in my Council sized garage, so I don't buy that argument, but it I suppose it all depends on your driving skills. And some have been constructed in awkward corners.

Anyway, main point: Too many unused garages. The Council should draw up plans to re-use these sites, or else refurbish and re-let the garages. If no one really wants them, then the space should be re-utilised to make affordable homes for local residents.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Those nuisance Calls

I had a call from a long distance sounding person this morning.
He said he was from the Windows servicing company and he was going to sort out my computer problem.
I don't have a computer, I said.
Oh, I understand, maybe you have an Apple?
Yes, and a banana or two in the fruit dish.
Well, do not worry, we are the Apple servicing company.
You said you were Windows. Make your mind up.
We do it all Sir.
What is the name of your company?
Yes. We are technical company for Apple.
Oh good, I said, because when I rang you yesterday you said you were coming round to fix it. What time are you coming round?
That is all right Sir, we are going to fix it now.
I could drive it round to you this morning.
We are fixing the problem.
Oh. okay. Are you driving round this morning or this afternoon?
We are fixing it now.  But first I need your card details.
What card details?
In order to get the servicing details You need to pay us ninety pounds.
Are you sure you're aware of my computer problem? It won't switch on.
Our technical servicing will be coming on now to fix it, but in order to get the service we need the card details.
Ok, hold on. I will have to go and find  my cards. Can you call back in ten minutes?
No problem, we will wait. We will stay on the line.
... left him waiting awhile.
Gave him false numbers, for the card, several times.
A technical guy came on the phone, asking me what I could see on the screen. It's all black, I said. The problem is I can't switch it on.
Don't worry, we will fix it now, he said. Can you see the cursor?
Well this nonsense went on awhile.
The first man came on again wanting to recheck my card numbers. More pallava over the  fiticious sequence of numbers.
Then he wanted my date of birth.
Why do you need my date of  birth?
Because I am telling you all the servicing details that will be coming to you for the paperwork need to have your name and details on.
I asked him for his date of birth, if he had a girlfriend, what time it was there, what could he see out of his window, what time he was finishing, suggested he could buy an icecream and have a good old lick, and wasn't he really ringing me because he fancied me...

... This could have gone all day, I suppose, but eventually I told him to get a life and hung up.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Shared Space and Blind People

Shared Space presents difficulties for blind people because the schemes rely on eye to eye contact between road users. Where there is no kerb, a blind person does not know for sure where the footpath ends and the road starts. Dogs for the blind and long cane users are trained to wait at a kerb. Tactile surfaces are not recognised by dogs for the blind.

A study carried out in 2009 by University College London recommended that a kerb of 60mm or greater would be needed in order to be detected when stepping up and stepping down and induced the greatest confidence in what they were and what they signified.(Effective Kerb Heights for Blind and Partially Sighted People

Tactile signage could help to indicate safest places to cross, for example, at a courtesy crossing.


The differentiation of areas by colour on shared surface streets is seen as useful for those who are partially sighted. 

Instead of a kerb, a textured area may be introduced, between the shared space and the safe space. If a guide dog went into this area, the person steering the dog might recognise the change in surface and decide to steer themselves back to the safe zone.(Ramb├śll Nyvig Report pdf)


BBC Discussion indicates tactile safe surface is a success.

twt fbk

Thursday, 7 March 2013

New Signs For Quarry Edge

Invited to attend with CBC councillors Jones and Mrs Goodchild, two local residents, a CBC officer, a chap from the quarry owners (St Francis Group), and two guys from Stevenage Signs, this morning. Met top of Millers Way, waited an hour for the Signage guys to get there (!) ... eventually we sorted out some locations for the warning signs, and left the sign guys to put them up. 

I suppose the main point to make is that the pathway is not adopted, so is not the responsibility of Central Beds Council. The CBC officer was merely there to facilitate a meeting between residents and the site owners.


"Beware of falling off the cliff edge"

The Quarry, Houghton Regis.