Rod McPhee: I've bin driven mad

BINS are funny things aren't they? No, bear with me, this does get more interesting. Well, a bit.

Yes, the common or garden bin, we've all got one after all. Actually, I have three now. A green one, a black one and now a brown one for grass and leaves and cuttings, that sort of thing.

"It's times like this..." I thought last week as I took delivery of my garden waste bin "...I wish I had a garden."

I bet my 36 neighbours in their back-to-back terraces felt the same. About half of them have small yards, granted, but not enough to warrant the delivery of 20 of these bins, priced at 18 a throw.

Yes, that's 360 worth of wasted waste bins in just one tiny corner of the city.

(See, you thought this was going to be dull, didn't you? Yes, I know it is )

We can send them back, of course, but it's still galls you to think that Leeds City Council used our council tax to buy them in the first place.

They also created a carbon wheelie print producing them, not to mention the emissions from the vehicles delivering them then picking them all back up. Not very green these brown bins.

Perhaps I'm to blame? After all, the local authority wrote to me in November saying I was going to get one and gave me 14 days to ring up and turn down the offer.

I guess, if I were doing my bit as a citizen, I'd pay more attention to the hundreds of bits of paper I get shoved through my letter box every year and respond accordingly.

And I can see the logic in allotting everyone a bin and handling a few hundred requests to take them back. The alternative would be writing to everyone to offer them a bin then handling the tens of thousands of acceptances.

(Have I lost you yet? No? Good.)

Letter

Anyway, I didn't notice this information on the back of the letter they sent me, nor did 20 other people living around me it turns out.

What annoys me is this: why weren't the council employees who delivered the bins just told to use their common sense and only deliver a garden waste bin to people with gardens?

Even more irritating is the knowledge that Leeds City Council will no doubt have spent thousands of our pounds on these excess brown bins (which will now be stored in a depot somewhere) at a time when local authorities are facing huge funding cuts.

Sorry to go on about it folks, but next time your council tax goes up and the level of service inevitably goes down, just remember the 18 worth of useless plastic standing outside my back-to-back terrace. Then just imagine how many back-to-back terraces there are in Leeds.

Bins, not so funny now are they?

Cooking up salvation for the dock?

RUMOURS continue to fly around about James Martin's imminent opening of a restaurant in Leeds.

Apparently the Saturday Kitchen host and bona fide Yorkshireman is at the point of picking fixtures and fittings for his homecoming eaterie, so it appears to have moved a little beyond hopeful whispers.

He revealed the plans at the Love Cooking Show in Harrogate last month and even joked about opening next door to Jamie Oliver's city centre restaurant on Park Row.

It was just a joke, however, but the gossip now seems to firmly point towards either the Granary Wharf unit left empty by the departure of The Olive Press or, believe it or not, Clarence Dock.

If the latter were true it would be a massive boost for a mixed use scheme which has so far enjoyed hugely mixed fortunes.

The arrival of Martin would surely breath life into the dock's main boulevard of shops and restaurants, which, anecdotally, has recently gained the cruel nickname of death row.

Cruel, but true.

Half a year to clear

This week I was stung by bank charges when I went over my overdraft limit. Normally I'm quite good with that sort of thing but on this occasion I was kinda duped.

You see, I paid for something which took four days to process through my current account. And during that four day period I checked my balance at a cash machine and it didn't indicate the money was still to be taken.

So, assuming it would have been removed instantly from my funds, the ATM gave me 40 I actually didn't have.

When I called my bank to remonstrate they informed me that when you pay for products with a debit card it doesn't always come out straight away, which I thought was fair enough.

But then they informed me that when you pay for something with a debit card the shop actually has, wait for it, SIX MONTHS to put the demand for money through your account.

And if that transfer takes more than 48 hours they can no longer set a certain amount of your balance to one side. Thus, it appears you have funds which you actually don't have at all.

I'm sure you're thinking: "You must be able to keep some track of what you paid for and what your balance ought to be." Well, maybe, but I certainly couldn't recall six months worth of payments, could you?