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News and Comment October 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

3 October (Part 3) - Lies, statistics and Bexley Council

There was a bit of a kick back on my criticism of Bexley Council’s odd - in more ways than one - rubbish dump rationing.

How could I have explained it better? You have six dice and six numbered rubbish dumps. You throw the dice in the air and you would not get an even distribution of numbers one to six and applying the numbers to the dumps you would get uneven queues. Throw a million dice in the air and you would very likely get a perfect distribution of queues. Reduce the dice from a million, to 100,000 or 10,000 and you would probably still get a good distribution but take the number down too low and the ‘queues’ would become uneven again.

Bexley Council chose to reduce the dice to two and make them coins. Heads or Tails. Just two possibilities and two dumps but the theory is the same. Now they won’t say why they did it and refuse to demonstrate what good the scheme did. But am I wrong?

This morning I remembered that I have two cousins who have First Class Honours Degrees in mathematics while I stalled at A level. I rang the one whose career was teaching Maths teachers. The other became a partner in one of the the big accountancy firms before motherhood took over.

I explained that like most Councils Bexley suffered extra pressure during the early part of the pandemic while people passed the time tidying houses and there would be sickness at the dumps. The Council tried to ration dump availability. Then there was the bin strike. She was surprised as her Council didn’t restrict her but I accept that many did.

My cousin said that the odd/even scheme would only have an effect if it deterred some people from visiting dumps altogether. I had not thought of that but on the other hand long queues are a deterrent too.

Why did Bexley cause its residents so much inconvenience for no mathematically valid reason? My sister’s Council introduced on-line booking slots as did my son’s. You can see some sense in that.

The issue now is of course nothing to do with statistics. It is a matter of honesty, the commodity that is always sadly lacking in this borough.

The Council has more or less admitted that their scheme was valueless, they are refusing to show me (FOI) any correspondence on the subject or their back of a fag packet calculation and if it is such a good idea why was it abandoned before the strike ended? The collection service is not back to normal even now. Why can’t Bexley Council simply admit they cocked up once again?

It reminds me of their ill-judged and illegal decision to close a public meeting in 2014. The blatant lies to excuse that caused the police to send a file to the CPS - who after a year’s procrastination and still stuck for an answer claimed to have lost it!


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