Sunday, March 05, 2006

What a waste...........

This photo shows me, as Cabinet Secretary for Environment four years ago, surrounded by some of the 'fridge mountain' created by the EU's directive on CFCs and (moreso) by DEFRA's tardy and totally inadequate response to it.

In Kingston, thanks to some excellent work by the Environment Contracts manager, we were able to be just about the first local authority to make adequate arrangements to cope with the disposal problems the Directive created. Our success showed that 'where there's a will, there's a way'.

By the time I left office in 2002 we had nearly finished work on a complete waste management strategy, on which an all-party group of councillors had been working for years, with extensive meetings that seemed to make little tangible progress. After I took on the portfolio, the lead officer and I pushed things forward considerably by devoting whole afternoons to the issues involved so as to cut down the time spent in the working party. The whole thing was nearly complete by March 2002. Then we had a change to single party Lib Dem control and the strategy document seemed to disappear from view, the final version not appearing until 2004/5. One thing that emerges from this is that the volume of waste recycled in the Borough appears to be less now than 4 years ago. We had added tins, plastic bottles and textiles to the paper recycling scheme we inherited from the Lib Dems and they have since replaced textiles with glass.

Even so we are not recycling anything like enough and it's costing us about £1m in landfill tax each year. That's why we proposed at Budget Council to introduce a weekly recycling collection, the cost of which would be substantially offset by savings of landfill tax by encouraging people to recycle more and put less in the dustbin. The idea was - to coin a phrase - rubbished by the Lib Dems. I hope they might change their minds - or Kingstonians might change them for them.

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