The Father Chaplin brothers?

My readers are surely familiar with Father Doug Chaplin who blogs at Metacatholic (but has just hinted that he might stop – please don’t, Doug, your blog is great!). They may not be quite so familiar with Father Vsevolod Chaplin, although he has been described as a “heavyweight” in his own church. These two are brothers in the priesthood (even if they don’t officially recognise this), the first in the Church of England and of the Anglo-Catholic variety (hence “Father”), the second in the Russian Orthodox Church.

One looks inoffensive, the other scary. Which is which, do you think? But perhaps it is just because in Russia, unlike in the west, it is not traditional to smile during formal photos. Friends have joked that this is because in England and North America we say “cheese” when our photos are taken, which makes us smile, but in Russia they say “syr”, with the same meaning, which can be pronounced properly only with a face like the one on the right above.

I thank Vara for bringing to my attention the second Fr Chaplin, in comments at Voice of Stefan starting here. See also the discussion in the following comments. Vara has blogged about Fr Vsevolod several times, most recently here, and it is her picture of him I have included above. His first name means “Ruler of all” in old Russian, but presumably this is not intended as a blasphemous claim; rather he was named after several ancient Russian rulers.

As Vara commented at Voice of Stefan, the Russian Chaplin doesn’t seem to be scary in real life, as he is quite a humorist. Like Vara I loved his commandments of post-christian paganism, despite the less than perfect translation and the same scary photo provided by the renowned Interfax news agency. And like Esteban I laughed at his jokes, especially this one which could give a glimpse at the eternal destiny of the other Fr Chaplin:

An Anglican bishop, a righteous man, dies. St. Peter greets him in Paradise and shows him around the Hell.
– Here we have murderers, blasphemers, here are robbers. Here are those who sinned against their confession. Here are Orthodox who did not observe their fasts, here are Catholics who criticized the Pope, here are Baptists who did not read the Bible.
– Do you have any Anglicans?
– Yes, we have one…
– What did he do? (Anglicans are known for their liberal treatment of dogmas and church practice.)
– He did not know how to hold a knife and a fork in the right way.

(Updated 09/03/2011 with a new photo of Doug Chaplin because the old one had disappeared.)

Most British people still believe in God the Creator, but why?

Another post relevant to Darwin’s bicentenary …

The Christian think tank Theos has carried out a survey of public opinion in Britain on creation and evolution. Thanks to Doug Chaplin for the link to Andrew Brown of the Guardian’s article about this. The results are extraordinary, considering that this is not a survey of Christians, but of the full spectrum of the population of the highly secularised UK. Here are the questions and some of the answers (extracted from the results, averaged over age groups and regions):

Q1. Young Earth Creationism is the idea that God created the world sometime in the last 10,000 years. In your opinion is Young Earth Creationism:

Definitely true: 11% Probably true: 21%.

Q2. Theistic evolution is the idea that evolution is the means that God used for the creation of all living things on earth. In your opinion is Theistic evolution:

Definitely true: 12% Probably true: 32%.

Q3. Atheistic evolution is the idea that evolution makes belief in God unnecessary and absurd. In your opinion is Atheistic evolution:

Definitely true: 13% Probably true: 21%.

Q4. Intelligent Design is the idea that evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages. In your opinion is Intelligent Design:

Definitely true: 14% Probably true: 37%.

These results raise several questions, not least that quite a lot of people must have said that two contradictory positions are definitely or probably true. The survey must have found many disciples of Alice’s White Queen, who practice believing impossible things before breakfast. Indeed the questions themselves raise questions, about the definitions used, as the British Humanist Association has rightly pointed out, but the research is still valid as long as the wording of the questions is kept in mind.

So, even in this highly secular country, the two most popular of these four positions explicitly involve the activity of a creator or designer, in other words of God or a god. The atheistic position comes in third place. More than half the population accepts the Intelligent Design position. This is perhaps good news for Christians, that despite the collapse of organised churchgoing in the UK there is still a strong residual belief in God. According to the detailed figures, this belief does not seem to tail off among younger respondents.

As for Young Earth Creationism, although this is the least popular of the four positions, it is only a little behind atheistic evolution, with nearly a third of the population considering it definitely or probably true. This is far more than the total adherents of any kind of religion which would teach this position. This may reflect in part widespread ignorance of anything to do with science, although only 8% admitted to “Don’t know” on this question. So Andrew Brown is surely right in his suggestion that this is a matter of “Science vs superstition, not science vs religion”. As Doug points out:

This has some echoes of Chesterton: when people stop believing in God they will believe in anything.

Personally I have serious issues with Intelligent Design at least as presented here, and also with Young Earth Creationism. But I would have answered “Definitely true” to this question about theistic evolution.

The Church of England upholds the uniqueness of Christ

After last week’s outbreak of unity, more good news from the Anglican churches. Some of you will think “Of course, this is what any church would do”. Others of you, the more cynical, might be amazed. But, as The Times, in an article by Ruth Gledhill (see also her blog post about the debate), and Thinking Anglicans report, the General Synod of the Church of England has today approved (by 283 votes to 8 with 10 abstentions) a private member’s motion on the uniqueness of Christ in multi-faith Britain.

In fact technically the motion, as printed in full by Thinking Anglicans, does not quite affirm the uniqueness of Christ, but it does “warmly welcome” a long paper by Martin Davie (I haven’t read it!) which concludes, very sensibly,

The Church of England, and Anglicans more generally, have also taken the traditional doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation as their basis for interfaith dialogue, holding that Jesus is the source of salvation for all people everywhere (whether they are yet aware of the fact or not), but also holding that Christians are called to be God’s instruments in bringing people to explicit faith in Christ and to membership of his Church.

So Ruth is justified in how she starts her article in The Times:

Anglicans were effectively mandated today by the Church of England to go out and convert Muslims and other non-Christian believers.

For decades, their fellow Christians have joked about Anglicans that it is unfair to say they believe in nothing. They believe in anything.

But in a move that led one bishop to condemn in anger the “evangelistic rants”, the Church of England yesterday put decades of liberal political correctness behind it.

(I note the confusion between “today” in the first paragraph and “yesterday” in the third, for the same event. Presumably this article is intended for Thursday’s paper, but the online version is dated Wednesday. The BBC is more careful in these matters in avoiding words like “today” and “yesterday” in its online news.)

Meanwhile Ruth, on her blog, notes that Facebook has penetrated further than ever before. She caught a bishop, Pete Broadbent who is well known to my readers here and has in fact been one himself, communicating with the Press apparently from the floor of the Synod during a debate. Now I wouldn’t dream of publishing comments on a Facebook friend’s status without permission from the commenter. Then I suppose if I was really concerned about the privacy of my comments I wouldn’t have any journalists as my friends. But as Dave Walker is my Facebook friend as well as Pete’s and Ruth’s I can confirm that Ruth has accurately quoted the episcopal comment:

Tee hee – surrender – resistance is futile…

Ruth asks:

Is it a scandal that a bishop is using Facebook while ostensibly listening to a serious synod debate on the place of Christ in the world today? Does anyone care?

I don’t! Perhaps the scandal is that I think this important enough even to mention in the same post as the uniqueness of Christ.

By the way, today the Synod also voted, by a clear margin well over the required 2/3 (despite Ruth’s miscalculations), to take the next step in the process towards allowing women bishops.

To conclude: I rejoice that the Church of England has taken such a clear stand on this important issue, reaffirming that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ.

Can God intend anything without predetermining everything?

In his post A definition of Scripture that conforms to the realia of the text John Hobbins hides some nuggets about God and predestination, which deserve to be repeated in a post where they are not a digression (John’s own word). This is the central one:

an all-powerful, all-knowing God cannot intend anything without predetermining everything unless that same God is all-loving.

The argument seems to be that only an all-loving God, like the one we read about in the Bible, is able to

not allow what he knows will happen in the future to predetermine everything he does in the present.

John illustrates this as follows:

like God, since I am a loving parent, I predetermine that I will not completely determine, for example, my son Giovanni’s choice with respect to where to go to university.

This is of course a completely biblical way of looking at the matter:

Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

Psalm 32:9 (TNIV)

That is, God does not want to control our every decision as if “by bit and bridle”, but wants us to make our own choices based on understanding.

This is true of the big decisions in life as well as the small ones. And that means it is also true of the greatest decision of all, whether or not to give one’s life to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Indeed we can only come to him if God draws us (John 6:44), but Jesus who is also God draws everyone to himself (John 11:32; I’m sure there is no real distinction between the Father and Jesus drawing people to him), so no one is left out. In this connection another equine proverb, although not biblical, is true:

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.

Similarly, God can lead lost human beings to the true living water, but he cannot make them drink, not without violating their humanity. He doesn’t want us to be “like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding”, so he allows us to make our own choices whether or not to accept his gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. In his kingdom he wants not animals who are there by force, but persons who have decided for themselves to live with him in love for ever.

The Church of England's apology to, or for, Darwin

The Church of England has marked the Darwin bicentenary by launching a new website about the great scientist. (Thanks to Ruth Gledhill for the link.) The front page links to several articles about Darwin. One of them shows how he began his life as a good Anglican. Another charts in his own words his loss of Christian faith:

disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete.

Yet another page shows how despite this he remained an active member of his village church in Downe, Kent.

The most interesting article on this site is Good religion needs good science, by Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs of the Church of England. Brown seems to accept that Darwin’s description of evolution was good science, but is rightly concerned about the philosophcal “Darwinism” which has been built up around it. The whole essay is all worth reading and cannot be summarised briefly, but here is a taster:

It is hard to avoid the thought that the reaction against Darwin was largely based on what we would now call the ‘yuk factor’ (an emotional not an intellectual response) when he proposed a lineage from apes to humans.

But for all that the reaction now seems misjudged, it may just be that Wilberforce and others glimpsed a murky image of how Darwin’s theories might be misappropriated and the harm they could do …

Natural selection, as a way of understanding physical evolutionary processes over thousands of years, makes sense. Translate that into a half-understood notion of ‘the survival of the fittest’ and imagine the processes working on a day-to-day basis, and evolution gets mixed up with a social theory in which the weak perish – the very opposite of the Christian vision in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55). This ‘Social Darwinism’, in which the strong flourish and losers go to the wall is, moreover, the complete converse of what Darwin himself believed about human relationships. From this social misapplication of Darwin’s theories has sprung insidious forms of racism and other forms of discrimination which are more horribly potent for having the appearance of scientific “truth” behind them. …

Christians will want to stress, instead, the human capacity for love, for altruism, and for self-sacrifice. There is nothing here which, in principle, contradicts Darwin’s theory. … But the point of natural selection is that it is precisely by being most fully human that we demonstrate our fitness. And being fully human means refusing to abdicate our ability to act selflessly or lovingly and to challenge thin concepts of rationality which equate “being rational” to material self interest. …

The problem for all Christians is discerning where the surrounding culture is really a threat and where it is compatible with our understanding of God. …

Brown ends with these interesting words of apology:

Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still. We try to practice the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends. But the struggle for your reputation is not over yet, and the problem is not just your religious opponents but those who falsely claim you in support of their own interests. Good religion needs to work constructively with good science – and I dare to suggest that the opposite may be true as well.

What to do when Mammon fails

Ruth Gledhill reports an interesting paper by Andreas Whittam Smith, “former editor of the Independent and now in charge of the Church of England’s £5 billion assets in his role as First Church Estates Commissioner”. The paper was apparently background material for discussions at this church’s General Synod. But Ruth doesn’t give a link to it, just extensive quotations. In her title she summarises his message as

Britain heading for ‘doomsday’

The article helps to explain what is happening during the current world financial crisis. It makes sobering reading, although I suspect, or perhaps just hope, that its message is somewhat exaggerated for effect. But, although Whittam Smith did use the word “doomsday”, Ruth’s title makes it seems even more alarming: this is not really about the end of the world, just about

the dismantling of the ‘great edifice of credit’ built up over 20 years. ‘The recession will continue until this process is over,’ he says …

My main point here is not about Ruth’s post or Whittam Smith’s paper, but about the first comment on the post (at the bottom; see also my reply), in which Chris Gillibrand writes (quoted in part):

And giving account of stewardship in the Gospel According to Saint Luke Chapter 16…. and in the Hansard record of today’s Select Committee meeting. The Gospel commends making friends with Mammon (aka riches) lest we fail, sadly it does not tell us what to do if Mammon fails- except one should remember that Christ redeems (literally repurchases) our sins (or debts as modern versions of the Lord’s Prayer would have it, as well as the Vulgate).

This puzzled me. Had Chris actually read the verse he refers to, Luke 16:9? As I remembered it, it tells us precisely what to do when Mammon, worldly wealth, fails, or at least what we should have done first. Here is the verse in RSV:

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.

Most modern versions replace “mammon” with “wealth” or something similar, but the meaning is the same.

But I suppose that Chris was reading or remembering the verse in KJV, otherwise known as the Authorised Version:

And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Note “ye fail”, where RSV has “it fails”. Indeed nearly every modern English version I can find including at Bible Gateway, going as far back as the English Revised Version (1881) has “it fails” or something with the same meaning. Only NKJV has “you fail”, but with “it fails” as an alternative in a footnote. (The Message completely loses the message of this verse; I ignore the 19th century Young’s Literal Translation, and the “21st Century King James Version” which is simply a revision of KJV.) I note that Chris has also interpreted “friends of” as “friends with”, whereas RSV’s “friends … by means of” is probably more accurate.

There are good reasons why most modern translations have corrected KJV here. The rest of this paragraph is only for those interested in the technicalities: The reading “ye fail” (Greek ἐκλίπητε eklipēte) comes from the mediaeval Byzantine text of the New Testament, as published by Erasmus, and later by Stephanus as the “Textus Receptus”. KJV  and NKJV are based on this text. But scholars now seem unanimous that this is not the original reading. According to Marshall (The New International Greek Testament Commentary, Eerdmans 1978, on this verse) it is found only in “W 33 69 131 pm lat; TR” which means in one 5th century Greek MS and a few later ones, and in the Latin Vulgate also translated in the 5th century. The scholarly text based on the oldest surviving manuscripts, at least one of which (P75, extant in this verse) dates back to the 3rd century, has “it fails” (Greek ἐκλίπῃ eklipē).

In this verse, as properly read, Jesus made it very clear that “unrighteous mammon”, wordly wealth, will fail. Some people have apparently understood this as referring to when individuals die and cannot take their wealth with the (compare Luke 12:20 and 1 Timothy 6:7), and this is perhaps the source of the alternative reading which is, according to Marshall, “the euphemism, ‘when you die’”.

But Jesus’ meaning is surely broader than that. The New English Bible reads “when money is a thing of the past”, and in E.V. Rieu’s Penguin Classics translation “when it comes to an end” refers back to “this dishonest world”. In this parable, as in most of his others, surely Jesus is looking ahead to the end of the world as we know it, when he will come again to judge us all, not on the basis of our wealth. That “doomsday” has not yet come, but perhaps the current financial chaos is a sign that it is on its way. This is not a time for the complacency of 2 Peter 3:4.

So what are we to do? Mammon may be on the way out but it has not completely failed yet. We are still far better off than the people of Zimbabwe, whose savings are now worthless. So we should use whatever we may have left not in a desperate effort to rebuild our financial security, but in the way Jesus teaches, “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon”. That is, we should invest in “treasure in the heavens” by using our wealth to do good, and trusting in God to give us the eternal reward of his kingdom (Luke 12:32-34). Only Jesus can save, but not in a bank!

Just a few verses after the one we have been discussing, in Luke 16:13 (RSV), Jesus issues an even stronger challenge:

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

(It is sad that many modern versions, even an “essentially literal” one like ESV, lose the link between verses 9, 11 and 13 by using different renderings of the Greek word which RSV has consitently translated “mammon”.)

So, my readers, make your choice: are you serving Mammon, worldly wealth, or are you serving God?

Faith in Public

The past week has been interesting for discussion of faith in the public arena. I haven’t written about them here, but have made some comments on them on other blogs.

The nurse Caroline Petrie was suspended from her job for offering to pray for a patient – and then reinstated, as reported in The Times. It seems that she wasn’t doing anything wrong – and indeed under new guidelines the colleague who reported her could be accused of religious harassment.

Government minister Hazel Blears gave a speech to the Evangelical Alliance which has provoked various reactions. Eddie Arthur sounded rather negative about this, but in my comment on his post I pointed out the positive side to what she said:

See also this report from the EA, which has a link to the full text of the speech. I note that Blears started by quoting from Isaiah “beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.” She also quotes “faith without works is dead.”

The EA seems critical of her for saying “The charter would mean faith groups who are paid public money to provide services … promising not to use public money to proselytise.” But this seems fair enough to me. This kind of separation doesn’t require completely separate charities, just separately accounted for funds like the building funds in many churches.

Now David Keen has written a post which, as well as commenting on these two stories, gives extracts from a speech given by our former Prime Minister Tony Blair to a prayer breakfast in Washington DC. Here are some extracts from the speech:

Today, religion is under attack from without and from within. From within, it is corroded by extremists who use their faith as a means of excluding the other. I am what I am in opposition to you. If you do not believe as I believe, you are a lesser human being.

From without, religious faith is assailed by an increasingly aggressive secularism, which derides faith as contrary to reason and defines faith by conflict. Thus do the extreme believers and the aggressive non-believers come together in unholy alliance.

How sad! I have seen too much of the first kind of attack even on this blog. But Blair continues:

And yet, faith will not be so easily cast. For billions of people, faith motivates, galvanises, compels and inspires, not to exclude but to embrace; not to provoke conflict but to try to do good. This is faith in action.

Then we have the following, which is so reminiscent of the TV show Yes, Prime Minister; I can hardly imagine Tony Blair as Jim Hacker, but it seems that there are real Sir Humphreys in the civil service:

I recall giving an address to the country at a time of crisis. I wanted to end my words with “God bless the British people”. This caused complete consternation. Emergency meetings were convened. The system was aghast. Finally, as I sat trying to defend my words, a senior civil servant said, with utter distain: “Really, Prime Minister, this is not America you know.”

An outbreak of unity?

It’s a long time since I blogged about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, which were regular topics here during last year’s GAFCON and Lambeth conferences as well as the C of E debate over women bishops. That is partly because on both these fronts things went quiet for several months.

But no longer. Last week the international issues that have divided the communion came up again at the Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria. Next week the issues in England will be in focus at the General Synod meeting. Ruth Gledhill summarises the current situation in an article in The Times. But things aren’t as interesting as they were last year: talk of schism has faded, and instead we have Ruth’s headline:

Anglicans brace themselves for an outbreak of unity

It's Better to Forgive

I drafted this article for Baddow Life newspaper, which is distributed free by the three churches in this parish to the over 6,000 homes in the area. Thus the intended readership is non-Christians as well as Christians. This is intended to be part of a set of articles on forgiveness. If it is published it will not be in quite this form.

A woman I knew argued with her husband regularly and kept bringing up how he messed up some travel arrangements on their honeymoon – which was more than 40 years ago! She looked at everything he did in the light of that incident, and because of that she could never find peace or happiness in her marriage. She thought she was punishing her husband, but in fact she and her children were far more harmed by this.

This is so often what happens to people who refuse to forgive others, whether for small matters as in this case or for huge ones such as the loss of a loved one. Even after the worst of tragedies, as long as the bereaved hold on to the wrong that has been done to them, they continue to suffer the pain of loss and can never move on to rebuild their lives. Instead they find themselves in a pit of bitterness and depression. They may claim that to forgive would dishonour the memory of their loved ones, but would those loved ones really have wanted to be remembered in such misery? And if this is true after awful disasters, how much more does it apply after trivial hurts!

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” – in these words the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that we can only expect to be forgiven for what we do wrong if we forgive others.

It is of course not easy to forgive. But it is the only way to get out of that pit and move on to live a normal life. I remember how I felt some years ago when my fiancée suddenly broke off our engagement. For weeks I could think only of how to get back at her. But then a wise Christian friend reminded me that even if I could find ways to hurt her I would end up hurting myself even more. When he counselled me I ended up in tears in a public foyer. But with this help I was able to put the matter behind me, forgive and move on.

I’m happy to say that that woman in the first paragraph did eventually find a way to put the honeymoon incident behind her and forgive her husband. And so they were able to enjoy their last few years of life.

Clearing roads "entirely out of our hands" – Chelmsford Borough Council

Sorry for a post of mainly local interest. I do have local readers and may find some more with this. The same principle may well apply elsewhere in England.

I have received a letter from a local councillor forwarded from Keith Nicholson, Director of Public Places at Chelmsford Borough Council. This explains why my weekly refuse collection was cancelled yesterday, and there will not now be another collection for a whole week. The reason given is as follows:

The concern remains the ability to manoeuvre large vehicles safely on these estate roads and to avoid unreasonable risks to our workforce who are engaged in the loading activities.

This of course refers to the snow which fell here on Sunday night and Monday morning, about four inches in total as pictured here. It never got any thicker than this, and no more snow has fallen here since Monday. Today it is raining gently, washing away the remaining snow and ice, so that even the service road behind my house is nearly clear:

Unemptied bins, not much snow

Unemptied bins, not much snow

Indeed on Wednesday there were still icy patches on some of the estate roads and pavements. This was not enough to stop commercial deliveries in large vehicles, e.g. to our local supermarket, which were continuing on very icy service roads even as the snow was falling on Monday. Probably more of a concern were the still very slippery pavements, which could indeed have been a danger to refuse collectors if they did not have suitable footwear.

I found this explanation quite reasonable until I read these words at the end of the letter, addressed to councillors:

Of course it goes without saying that we apologise to our customers for this disruption, but it is entirely out of our hands as I’m sure you will be able to explain if your are approached by any of your ward constituents

No, Mr Nicholson, this is not entirely out of your hands. Your council, indeed probably the department you head up, does the work to clear snow and ice off our roads (I think now under contract to Essex County Council). Your department could send out its workforce, otherwise unable to work at the moment, to clear the roads and pavements so that they could get on with their real job. If there are not enough workers or vehicles, that is not a matter entirely out of your hands, but a matter of your decision and your council’s not to allocate sufficient resources to cope with rather modest winter conditions. It is of course a matter of legitimate debate whether these resources should be kept in reserve for somewhat unusual bad weather. But this debate cannot be settled by a bald statement that the disruption is “entirely out of our hands”.

I spent a winter in Russia. Many readers of this blog are in cold parts of North America. They must find these excuses ridiculous. If the local authorities in those places abdicated their responsibilities by saying that the results of a few inches of snow are “entirely out of our hands”, then I don’t suppose refuse there would be collected between November and April.

At least Mr Nicholson’s letter offers some kind of apology. There is nothing apologetic at all in the announcement currently on Chelmsford Borough Council’s home page. I suppose a public apology quite literally “goes without saying”.

Refuse collection is a service which I pay for through my council tax. Will I receive a refund because this service has not been provided?

Here is the full text of Mr Nicholson’s letter, as forwarded to me and a large number of others with a request to give it publicity:


Unfortunately we have had to cancel recycling and waste collections again today – Wed 4 February 2009

Despite leaving the assessment on whether to collect or not until mid morning today, ground conditions have not improved sufficiently to allow collections to take place

The problem remains with the estate roads and footpaths rather than the main roads and bus routes which are now largely clear. The concern remains the ability to manoeuvre large vehicles safely on these estate roads and to avoid unreasonable risks to our workforce who are engaged in the loading activities. The ‘on the ground’ assessment of selected routes this morning indicated that less than 20% of properties would be collectable and even this would require a judgement to be made by the collection vehicle driver for each individual road taking into account the potential risks. This is unrealistic. The other disadvantage with trying to undertake a partial collection is that this adds considerably to the uncertainty and confusion as to what collections have been made or are likely to be made and usually results in an adverse public reaction rather than a positive one.

In terms of contingency arrangements we now have to revert to ‘plan C’. In essence this means cancelling the Monday to Wednesday collections that have already been missed rather than attempting a catch-up and reverting to the normal collection days from Thursday onwards – assuming that collections will be possible tomorrow. This means that those properties that did not have a collection on Mon/Tue/Wed this week will have a ‘double’ collection at their next collection time for both refuse and recycling. This is now the most expedient way to recover the collection cycle. We are mindful also that further adverse weather is forecast for later this week – which could interrupt any ‘Saturday catch-up’ arrangements compounding the problem further.

The only variation to this will be that the brown bin garden waste collections scheduled for this week and week commencing 9th February will be cancelled. This will allow priority to be given and extra resources allocated to the ‘double collection of residual waste in the black bins and the extra volume of material from the recycling collections. Given the ground conditions experienced this week it is probably a reasonable assumption that volumes of green waste this week and next would be relatively low anyway. Normal brown bin garden waste collections will resume on Monday 16th February on week “A”.

The only other issue is that we will investigate the feasibility of adding an extra cardboard collection to those areas that may have missed the scheduled monthly collection to avoid a potential 8 week gap between these collections

The revised collection schedule can be found on the Chelmsford Borough Council website

Of course it goes without saying that we apologise to our customers for this disruption, but it is entirely out of our hands as I’m sure you will be able to explain if your are approached by any of your ward constituents

Keith Nicholson

Director of Public Places