Leader comment: Bin the ban on Christmas cheer

Bah humbug stories are as regular as Christmas itself, but East Dunbartonshire Council has pulled a cracker with its block on gifts of alcohol or cash for bin men.

Binmen are rarely shown any appreciation, other than at Christmas time.

The reason given for the ban is the Bribery Act 2010, brought in to prevent corruption of those who are wined and dined, or lavished with gifts, in an attempt to win favour.

Just what privilege a bin man is expected to confer on those who offer a little seasonal cheer is unclear. Maybe a personal visit mid fortnightly collection – under cover of darkness – to spirit away all the pesky packaging that overflows during the festive season? Or quietly accepting that rogue whisky bottle in among the cardboard, rather than leaving it in the bottom of the pavement recycling box to shame the offender in front of neighbours as not only utterly hopeless, but also a suspected alcoholic to boot? We should be so lucky.

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There is a strong case for arguing that rules made for everyone should be applied to everyone, but there is a better case for applying common sense. Bin men carry out one of the most unpleasant jobs in society, and get paid a pittance. In winter, it’s worse – hard manual labour, cold and dark, often wet and unfailingly filthy. Then there’s the smell.

And most of the time, we take them for granted. We are all familiar with the howls of outrage each festive season when the excess junk we generate is not picked up on the – wait for it – usual day, because public service workers are entitled to a public holiday.

The good people of East Dunbartonshire should be entitled to offer a token of their appreciation. Peace on earth, and goodwill to all binmen.