This England

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Wheelies within wheelies

Priscilla Thomas, 76, was told by Brighton and Hove City Council that unless she lowered her wheelie bin down the step outside her home, her rubbish bags would not be collected by binmen.

Mrs Thomas said that when she confronted the binmen they told her the four-inch step was deemed a health and safety hazard.

Some authorities, including Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol, Cardiff, Nottingham, Harrow and Barnet, will only take waste away if the bin is properly shut, because of fears that binmen could be injured by sharp objects protruding from the overflowing plastic bags.

Portsmouth City Council has banned wheelie bins altogether over fears that they were causing workers back pain.

Daily Telegraph (David Harling)

Pensioner power

Kevin Garwood, a martial arts instructor of Gorleston in Norfolk, holds three classes a week for pensioners, focusing on simple strangleholds, armlocks and turning and twirling walking sticks.

Sunday Times (Sigrid Rabiger)

This article first appeared in the 28 January 2008 issue of the New Statesman, Merchant adventurer