It is disgusting that some homes have gone four weeks without having their rubbish taken away. Bob Neill, the Local Government Minister, is right to urge local authorities to show "more initiative" because the consequences of infrequent collections over Christmas are dirt, disease and degradation of communities. As people in Leeds know only too well after last year's strike, the sight of overflowing bins can swiftly damage a city's reputation.
The amount of food and paper waste produced each Christmas, as well as the particularly bad weather in late 2010, mean it is vital that Britons' bins are emptied regularly. Councils must follow the urgings of Mr Neill and keep the country clean. In doing so, they could also bear in mind another lesson from political history, that taxpayers simply want local authorities to get the basics right and then to stay out of their way.