We had the third meeting of the new Scrutiny Panel this evening. It was the longest so far but we gave the future of waste management in the Borough a very thorough airing, hearing nine separate witness statements on the situation as it has evolved over the last four years and the way the Administration intends it to develop in the future.
It would appear that the statistics on recycling, which purport to show a leap from about 18% to just under 24 % in a little over a year are a little less flattering than was thought as the basis of calculation was not the same each time. We have been comparing apples with pears, so to speak.
The future seems to centre around a partnership with three other London Boroughs (Merton, Sutton and Croydon) which will handle the problem of disposal in new ways as opportunities and permissions for landfill diminish. This will undoubtedly involve a largescale capital outlay - rather more than the theatre has cost - so far!
The contribution from Friends of the Earth was impressive, especially in pointing out what might be done (or have been done already) to minimise waste in the first place. It was pointed out that many small local businesses were only too willing to help, especially those which mend things like shoes and electrical appliances etc.
The constitution of the partnership of Boroughs and negotiation of new and probably very long term contracts will be a legthy process which we shall monitor continually over the next 2 years. It was a long meeting but I think one that went well as the Panel (the Conservative side anyway) got its teeth into the meat of the problem. The Lib Dems were a bit disappointing; they seemed a bit touchy and defensive over the Administration's record and didn't really make much of a contribution over the plans for the future - perhaps they'd already done so in their private Group meeting.