Louis O'Shea from Brockley Brewery with beer and binmen
Louis O’Shea from Brockley Brewery drops by with some beer for the binnies
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Lager than life as usual, 853’s special correspondent MERCURY MAN joins residents and a local brewery in cheering The Brilliant Binnies…

Let’s hear it for unsung heroes of the lockdown, the binmen and women who cheerfully do the job that few of us would ever fancy.

All across south east London, residents have been shouting their appreciation when that oh-so-familiar noise comes down their streets like The Deadwood Stage.

And now, thanks to a local brewery, Lewisham borough residents can repay their efforts and cheery smiles by buying them a beer. But don’t, whatever you do, mention the bigwigs at the town hall. The binnies reckon they’ve been blanked by the elected mayor, Damien Egan, and the council’s chief executive, Kim Wright.

One binman, who preferred to remain anonymous, told me: “It’s great to have the public’s support. They thank us every time we pass, but we haven’t had a single email or a visit to the Wearside Road depot from the mayor or chief executive.”

“Since day one of this pandemic the refuse and recycling crews have been in the thick of it We were one of the only councils to run every service and the crews, despite their own fears about working and putting their own families at risk, have come in every day.

“It seems to us that it’s all about the staff at the town hall. I think the staff at the Wearside depot know where we stand and rank, apparently not very high.”

On May 7 there was a YouTube message fronted by Mayor Egan thanking Lewisham’s carers, but no mention of the binnies or other key workers.

Brockley Brewery team
Brockley Brewery is allowing the public to buy beer for Lewisham’s bin crews

Egan was quick to reply to my request for a quote: “Our refuse collectors are doing an incredible job and should be commended for working so hard to maintain our collections through every day of this crisis.

“Thank you to everyone who has been generous with donations, well wishes or simply said thank you. We have still got a way to go until we see through this crisis but when we do we need to find a fitting way to celebrate all the heroes in our workforce and community. ”

More effusive, perhaps, and certainly more practical was the response from the Brockley Brewery – in Harcourt Road, close to Brockley station – who soon joined the community spirit.

You can buy two bottles of beer, including non-alcoholic beer, at cut-price for the binnies, and the company will match the funds by up to £200 a month.

Founding partner Andy Rowland told me over a quick, socially-distanced, half: “At Brockley Brewery we are in awe of all the hardworking people who are keeping this world going. With this in mind we have launched our Beer for Binnies campaign to celebrate the continued hard work that the Bin Men and Women have put in despite the challenging circumstances.

“We would be in a mess without them so please, say thank you to the men and women who collect our bins and keep our streets clean. Say thank you with a beer!”

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I’ll be sending 20 quid for a bottle or two. It would be great if you did too, Mayor Egan.

You can buy beer for the binnies at brockleybrewery.co.uk.

MERCURY MAN looks at different sides of life in south-east London. Click here to read past columns.

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