In a show of Christmas spirit Aylesbury Vale District Council has backtracked on its policy to discipline any bin collector who accepts a festive tip.
Yesterday we reported that Councillor Howard Mordue, cabinet member for finance, resources and compliance, said: “Although we appreciate that customers sometimes like to express their gratitude to our hard working teams, our policy only allows employees to accept low value modest items. In the past customers have been generous in offering mince pies, cakes or biscuits that can be shared with colleagues, and these have generally been accepted as appropriate.”
“It is important to us that our customers trust our employees to act with the highest degree of integrity, and therefore, if we become aware of an allegation that an employee has breached our Code of Conduct, we would normally investigate the matter, as a potential disciplinary issue.”
Unite national officer for local authorities Fiona Farmer stepped in criticising the move, saying: “The bosses at Aylesbury Vale District Council are being mean-spirited and Scrooge-like in this misguided edict - it should be rescinded immediately.
“If the residents of Aylesbury wish to give the refuse collectors, who are out in all weathers collecting their waste, a small token of appreciation that should be allowed - this is not high scale bribery and back handers, but an act of recognition of a job well-done 365 days a year.
“The councillors need to take a history lesson, as in Britain it has been the long-standing custom for tradespeople to collect “Christmas boxes” of presents on the first weekday after Christmas as a ‘thank you’ for good service throughout the year.
“This custom stretches back centuries and was mentioned in Samuel Pepys diary in December 1663.”
But now, council leader Neil Blake appeared to backtrack saying that the council would not discipline anyone for accepting tips, although he did not specify what sort of tokens would and wouldn’t be appropriate.
In a second statement issued by the council in response to our story, Mr Blake said: “We feel this has been blown out of proportion.
“Our crews work all year round ,in all weathers and, having been out with them, I know first hand the amount of effort that they put in.
“It’s understandable, therefore, that some residents would want to recognise that effort by giving them a small token of appreciation at this time of year.
“I’d like to reassure everyone that there will be no disciplinary action as a result these small tokens of gratitude being accepted.
“Our policy on gifts and hospitality applies to staff at every level, and is more about larger gifts or where there’s a suggestion that gifts are given in return for favours.
“So there’s no bah humbug about this and we wish all our residents and hardworking crews a very Merry Christmas!”