Posted tagged ‘waste’

Waste War-Chest

October 3, 2011

I really really want to to like you and yet every time....

In case anyone missed it Mr Pickles has established a £250 million fund which he will use to assist local authorities to reinstate weekly bin collections. Mr Pickles apparently ‘raided every biscuit tin’ in the DCLG to find the money for his number 1 priority and stated that having your bin collected weekly is a ‘basic right’.

The reasons that Mr Pickles is wrong are almost too many to mention but as a quick top seven, in no particular order, here goes:

  1. Having your bin collected every week is not a basic right, genuinely.
  2. Having your bin collected every week is a high priority in a lot of areas but is not in others.
  3. A true localist would let the local community, and their council, decide whether or not to have a weekly collection
  4. Many councils are contemplating severe cuts to many other services (such as social care). Surely, if there was a biscuit tin to raid he could have found something better to spend it on.
  5. Weekly bin collections usually lead to less recycling and more landfill which is both bad for the environment and expensive (due to the landfill tax). Councils are likely to be placed in a very awkward position but this policy.
  6. Some councils still have a weekly bin collection and are probably the councils who most need a weekly collection and yet they are the least likely to be eligible for the money. Those that don’t ‘need’ such a collection will get money to reinstate it.
  7. The pot will only be available for a council who ‘bids’ for the money. I spy a very bureaucratic procedure with scoring criteria and lots of forms; surely this is in very real contrast to what the Government stands for?

So, if the announcement and the allocation of a quarter of a billion pounds was so obviously wrongheaded we need to ask; why exactly did he do it?

I have a theory. It’s not much of a theory but here goes. Eric Pickles genuinely believed that what he was doing was a) the right thing to do and b) that it would be popular. Let me explain:


Throwing away localism?

June 15, 2011

An excuse to show my favourite bit of graffiti

Unless you’ve been buried under the nation’s burgeoning mountain of waste, which apparently is spilling over from landfills to cover our streets and will continue to do so unless it’s disposed of weekly, you will have heard that the government have made a bit of a u-turn when it comes to the issue of weekly bin collections.

Eric Pickles has been championing the case for weekly bin collections for years now, and decided that there was no way he was going to sit back and allow local authorities to decide for themselves how often the rubbish should be collected in their areas.  After all, they can’t possibly know what local people really want or how much better weekly collections would be, so he issued something of an announcement to say that it would be so: weekly bin collections for all.

The thing is, nobody managed to explain to him that this might cost a few quid.  In fact, it might cost around £140million, or about 7927ish experienced staff nurses (I’ve always wanted to find an opportunity to describe things in this way, ever since local government “waste” started being described in such terms). (more…)

Local regionalism

June 1, 2011

Local solutions for outsiders?The Minister for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has given the go-ahead for 250,000 tonnes of nuclear waste to be dumped in the UK.  Specifically, the old landfill site is in Northants, where a local referendum returned a 96% vote against being the result.

This situation is splitting opinion, in particular regarding two different elements of it.

To start with, It should come as no surprise at all that 96% of local residents voted against such a plan.  If you were to ask most people if they would like to have a nuclear dump close to their homes – and I have spoken to some of the people who live near the proposed site – they would probably say no, regardless of the actual details of the plans in question.  When presented with a simple yes or no, with an emotive issue and which most people don’t take the time to fully understand this is as surprising as the shock that FIFA is (allegedly) corrupt.

However, many of those same people often accept the overarching need for such a facility in general.  They would acknowledge that such waste needs to be disposed of safely somewhere, just not near them.  It is simple nimbyism – for those not familiar with the term, ‘Not In My Back Yard’.

This highlights an issue facing local government in this modern age of localism.  Such regional facilities will be required in the future – it is not practical that every town and village is entirely self sufficient in terms of energy creation, waste disposal and other public amenities.  It simply cannot be the case that each village, town or local authority can act in isolation, looking only within its artificially created boundaries and protecting the interests of its own.


What a load of rubbish

April 13, 2011

So, when it gets taken by the truck it doesn't just vanish?

There is one service that, more than any other, excites the passions of our local populations.


Councils spend an inordinate amount of money picking up our rubbish and then, more importantly, finding somewhere to dispose of it. This is a very expensive business and also an issue of major environmental concern.

Which is why local authorities work very hard to manage the flow of rubbish, encourage recycling and generally try everything they can to reduce the amount of rubbish we are throwing into the ground or burning. The Government support this by charging councils for every tonne of rubbish we put into the ground and setting targets for things like recycling. In general dumping the rubbish is more expensive than collecting it.

The Government and local councils are in this together.

In local government, we know that if we don’t reduce the amount of rubbish we dump the costs will keep rising and long term providing a waste collection service will become unsustainable. Central Government need local government to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill or the country will be in a very bad way.

So why, when we are in this together, have the DCLG and DEFRA taken the past week as an opportunity to fight with local government? Why is localism an appropriate response to most problems but not that of waste? Why are the market incentives so beloved of this Government not sufficient in this area? And why do their criticisms not make any sense with each other?