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Birmingham City Council's desire to save the planet is one thing, but conserving cash as well wasn't meant to be part of the plan. Especially when it belongs to other people. Andy Goff reports

A little known part of Birmingham City Council's efforts to minimise waste is their nappy library. This is a scheme set up to promote the use of re-usable washable nappies.

Each year this country ditches millions of disposable nappies. Councils across the country spend a fortune collecting these festering germ bags from doorsteps and then either incinerating them or shoving them into big holes in the ground for future generations of archaeologists to ponder over. I'm sure they will find them a fascinating insight in to our profligate waste of resources.

The nappy library buys small stocks of nappies and waterproof wraps so that new parents can experiment and, hopefully, grow to love this more natural approach to bodily waste management. After all it's how we used to deal with it before Huggies or Pampers came along.

Quite apart from thereduction in landfill, using real nappies can save a fortune over the birth-to-potty life of a baby. We used them with our baby and liked them so much we took over the company that supplied from - Nappy Happy. My wife became a passionate advocate and gave talks and demonstrations promoting their general use.

In February this year we were approached to supply some nappies for the nappy library. My wife went to a meeting; we gave a discounted quote and delivered the nappies along with an invoice.

The shambles that is Birmingham City Council's accounts department paid us - yesterday! Six months late and only after we had taken the Small Claims Court route via the moneyclaim website.

For thirty pounds paid by credit card I was able to fill in an onscreen form registering the claim. It was very simple - unless you are as daft as I am.

On my first attempt I set the claim up so that I was acting on behalf of Birmingham City Council suing my own company for an unpaid debt. This could have had embarrassing consequences had the claim run its course. I could have had jack-booted bailiffs coming in to my house to remove my telly, fridge and hi-fi to pay off the debt I was owed!

A hasty phone call to the very nice people at the Court Service in Northampton solved the problem. They refunded the payment and told me this happens all the time.

Hmmm could be a website design issue then.

As a result of papers being served correctly Birmingham Council suddenly paid up the original debt but couldn't work out how to pay the £30 court fee. They hadn't had an invoice for that. Well, they have now and it remains to be seen when that payment will arrive. Will I have to go through the process again to obtain the surcharge?

Local council tax payers should be aware that not only is our council tax being used to fund civic society structures it's also being squandered on unnecessary court fees for late payment.

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