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Mark Andrews: Litter louts and foil addiction

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Newspaper headline from last week: “Charity launched to help foil addiction.” I never knew kitchen wrapping was so moreish.

Members from Stafford Litter Heroes.

Becki Woolrich is a true community hero. She has formed a litter-picking group which regularly goes around Stafford, making it a better place to live, and protecting wildlife. Her group has also secured lottery funding for litter-picking equipment, meaning they can do an even more efficient job.

She also sounds remarkably tolerant. Speaking before last weekend’s clean-up, she said: “We often hear of a ‘feel-good factor’ from our supporters, after we’ve helped tidy up an area, which is great.”

Feel-good factor? If it were me, it would be more a ‘feel-livid factor’, raging that we still have dirty low-life among us who think nothing of dropping litter in the street, and feel no shame at all that people such as Becki then have to give up their own time to clean it up.

Deja vu alert. An Italian architect reckons he has come up with a solution to the housing crisis after devising a range of ‘flat-pack’ houses which can be assembled in a day, and cost between £30,000 for a single-bedroom place, up to £90,000 for a family home.

These stories always crop up from time to time, but for whatever reason, Britain always seems reluctant to embrace the prefab revolution.

Of course, there are catches. First there is the delivery cost, which is adds between £9,000 and £23,000 to the price. Then you have got to buy the plot of land and get planning permission, by which time you have probably spent the same amount as you would on a normal house anyway. And you to say that the construction video, which appears to suggest that beneath the shiny cladding the walls are actually made from chipboard are not that encouraging either.

But I suspect the real reasons why people don’t want a flat-pack house are pretty much the same reason that flat-pack furniture is never all it’s cracked up to be.

Namely that it always takes three times as long to put together compared to what is says in the instructions. And once you have finished, you usually discover a bag of very important screws in the bottom of the box, which leaves you worrying how long before it all falls to pieces.

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The NHS is reportedly so short of cash that it is having to rein in spending on basics such as paracetamol, cough medicine and eye drops, yet still manages to stump up the cash for the latest fads and gimmicks.

The latest brainwave comes from a GP surgery in Cardiff, which is prescribing fat people with bike-hire sessions.

I don’t doubt that obesity is a major problem, and that encouraging exercise is will could save the NHS money in the long-run. But paying for bike hire does not sound an efficient way of doing it.

Bikes are not expensive. You can get a new one for £100 from a well-known retailer, and if you’re not too fussy, you can easily buy a second-hand one for £15. You can probably pick one up for nothing if you go on those websites dedicated to giving them away. So if people are reluctant to engage in cycling, it’s because they have made a choice not to. Free bike hire won’t change that.

Probably one of the reasons people are reluctant to get on their bikes is because it can seem pretty scary these days, what with all the traffic around. Let’s hope nobody gets injured by falling off them. That really would increase pressures on the NHS.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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