Suffolk County Council is conducting a survey of the residents of that glorious county into their preferred opening hours for recycling centres. Like almost every other body which asks people to fill in forms, the council, naturally, asks respondents to state their age, race, religion and whether they are LGBT or straight. They are also, of course, asked to say whether they are HIV positive.
Most of us just sigh deeply when we see those silly and irrelevant questions. The doughty people of Suffolk, however, are not so timid. Many of them have risked the rage of the modern bureaucrat by demanding to know why their race, religion, sexual orientation or HIV status could conceivably be relevant to the times at which recycling centres are open.
The council officers are totally bemused by the cheeky objections of their council taxpayers to being asked these questions. Nevertheless, they have backed down a little. This is what they say: “SCC understands that you may feel these questions are intrusive and highly personal. The information you submit is voluntary but it does make a difference.”
It would be very strange indeed if any questions about the opening hours of recycling centres were compulsory. So the first part of the council’s statement tells us nothing. What I would love to know, however, is why knowing the sexual orientation of the users of the centres could possibly “make a difference” to their opening hours.
If I were a conspiracy theorist I am sure I could come up with an explanation for why Suffolk County Council (and pretty well every other branch of local and national government) thinks it essential to pose “intrusive and highly personal” questions on every form ever produced. But my guess is that the answer is much more straight forward: the bureaucrats who design the forms are simply bone stupid.
The poor dunderheads who are told to draft the forms have had it endlessly drummed into their weak brains that something called “diversity” is paramount. Therefore, they assume, it is vital to use every opportunity to grill people on their age, sex, race, religion and sexual orientation. The answers, they think (though can’t explain why), are bound to “make a difference”. Maybe, if seriously pressed, they might suggest that recycling centres should be closed down completely if not enough LGBT people were using them. But even they (the designers of the forms not the LGBT folk), however stupid they are, would probably realise that that would not be a wholly popular policy to follow.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the rest of us stood up to idiotic bureaucracy in the way the people of Suffolk have done?