Rubbish was attracting rats rather than customers

For this month’s instalment of Service Centre, I have looked into a complaint to my helpline from Jagdish Radia regarding the lack of bin collection at his Leaway Service Station in Birmingham which was putting off customers and attracting rats.

Jagdish said that since the last bank holiday weekend his bins had not been collected for three weeks even though Birmingham City Council had taken payment for three months upfront. The car wash next door and the car showroom and other neighbours were complaining about it. 

He said he had made at least 20 phone calls but they never got answered, except for one limp auto reply along the lines of ‘oh well, you know the bank holiday has left us all in a muddle’.

As he says: “I know Birmingham City Council is bankrupt but I didn’t know it couldn’t afford anyone to even answer the telephone!”

I contacted the council with an April 23 deadline and while I was waiting for a reply, I got an update from Jagdish on April 22: “A small council truck came in today. They just took rubbish from the bin but when my staff told them to take all other rubbish from the last four weeks, they said they couldn’t take that rubbish because they only had a small truck. They left all the black bags which were next to the bin and so many other bags and cardboards which we have kept behind the building as we couldn’t leave by the bin because of space. So I don’t know when will they collect all the others.”

No one from the council got back to me and meanwhile, I believe that his neighbouring car wash owner has persuaded Jagdish to go with Biffa so he is planning to stop his direct debit.



Jac Roper: Time will tell for the future of hydrogen on the forecourt

What’s your stand on EV charging and hydrogen-powered cars?

The subject of EV charging seems to be everywhere so I consulted a few of my regulars to ask them if this was something they were currently investing in? And if so, how much had they invested? And had they calculated what the return on investment would be? Or whether they had considered using a third party to take the investment hassle out of their hands?

And for good measure I also asked what they thought the future of hydrogen-powered cars would be. Some interesting theories emerged.

Jon Brownsey, who runs Fordingbridge Service Station in Hampshire, said: “I am not looking into installing electric charging points. Ours is a site shared with two other businesses and to give up the space would mean foregoing something else, added to which I suspect our electric supply wouldn’t support them. I also remain unconvinced as to the business case, especially since we don’t have a coffee shop to take advantage of those customers waiting for their car to charge.

“Given that the selling of electricity can be done pretty much anywhere, are petrol stations the best place to do it? Anywhere with a suitable supply and hospitality facilities can fulfil the role.

“Hydrogen lends itself far better to forecourt retailing. We used to sell LPG so the equipment and process would be similar – it is a shame that hydrogen isn’t being pursued to the same extent as electric. It seems to be another VHS/Betamax situation, where the better option gets sidelined by the more popular product. Time will tell.”

I suspect that the government has far more invested interest in electricity.

Huw Griffiths, who runs two sites in Wales at Bridgend and Llantwit, also wasn’t interested. “No we have not considered EV on the sites and have no plans to do so at this time. Sales of new EV cars look to be increasing but I wonder what will happen in the coming years when they are entering the secondhand market. Will people want to buy them?

“Hydrogen looks to me to be a more viable option, I will wait and see over the coming years. Maybe I am way off the mark and EV will be the future, but in the meantime I have just taken delivery of two hybrid cars for my wife and myself. A far better option at this time.”

Stanley Kydd wrote from Frances St Filling Station in Newtownards, County Down: “I have not done anything in regards to EV charging at the moment. I am just sitting back and watching what other people are doing before deciding the best way to go.

“I attended a conference in Dublin over 10 years ago and the subject of electric cars was mentioned and the speaker at that time was very confident that the future of motoring would be hydrogen and not electric and I am starting to agree with him.”

But then this from Tom Dant, managing director of Gill Marsh Forecourts with three sites in Lincolnshire: “We are currently developing a site and are making EV charging an integral part of the development (giving up six parking spaces for it). We are exploring a revenue share option and an option to purchase and operate it ourselves. The supplier we are in talks with is going to do a cost analysis for us to accurately establish our ROI and break even point.

“Hydrogen is quite interesting, and I think maybe in 20-30 years’ time might be the fuel of choice, but certainly not for now due to the costs involved and lack of infrastructure. You would need a significant sized site for storage and would take a large investment at this point in a fuel that may end up not ever being used!”

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