London Councils has today expressed its regret at the Mayor’s decision to go back on his promise to participate in the London Waste and Recycling - warning that his decision would set back recycling in the capital.
The organisation has also expressed its disappointment that the government has said that it will not act to resolve the Mayor’s refusal to participate in the Board – despite it being their proposal.
Last month the Mayor announced that he will withdraw his agreement to chair and help fund the Board. This decision will disrupt efforts to improve waste management in the capital and will mean planned new recycling facilities could be delayed or lost.
At the third reading of the Greater London Authority Bill in the Lords yesterday, government minister Lord Rooker made clear that the government would not do anything to compel the Mayor to participate.
This means that London’s boroughs are now the only ones driving forward the government’s proposals - London Councils has already begun considering funding priorities for the Board on behalf of the capital’s boroughs.
The London Waste and Recycling Board is one of the measures to be introduced once the Greater London Authority Bill receives Royal Assent. The Board’s purpose is to bring together all those working in waste management in the capital – including the Mayor, boroughs and business – to meet the twin challenges of increasing recycling and reducing waste sent to landfill.
London Councils is disappointed at the Mayor’s decision to withdraw from the Board – especially because he had previously outlined his support for the government’s proposals at a meeting with London Councils Chairman Councillor Merrick Cockell in June. He also promised to provide an extra £6 million of funding to add to the £19 million promised by government.
However, at a recent meeting with Councillor Cockell, the Mayor withdrew his promise – because the government had failed to provide him with absolute control of the Board.
This is despite being offered the Chair of the Board and four of the eleven seats – the boroughs were due to receive a further four, with three more going to representatives from business and the wider community.
Councillor Merrick Cockell, Chairman of London Councils, said:
“London desperately needs a co-ordinated effort to manage the capital’s waste. The government’s proposed Waste and Recycling Board would deliver this, giving us a strategic overview, without losing the local knowledge and understanding the boroughs can bring to help drive up recycling in the capital.
“The Mayor’s decision to work alone will make tackling the twin challenges of increasing recycling and reducing waste sent to landfill even harder. The government appears to be condoning this behaviour, which suggests that it is only the boroughs that remain committed to improving recycling in the capital. But we can’t do this alone – we need both the government and the Mayor to work with us.
“The proposed Board is the best vehicle we have both to distribute funds and to leverage more funding for new waste and recycling facilities. If the government and Mayor really are committed to improving recycling in the capital, I would urge them to renew their support for the Waste and Recycling Board. Otherwise the Mayor’s decision – and the government’s refusal to act – could be something that we, and London’s future generations, come to regret.”
For the text of yesterday’s debate, please see:
The discussion begins at Column 140.
The London Waste and Recycling Board was proposed by a government amendment to the GLA Bill in June 2007. Their proposal followed their rejection of the Mayor’s claims to a single waste authority in London – which was decided to be too costly and likely to set back waste management in the capital.
The proposed Board would bring together representatives from the London boroughs, the Greater London Authority and business under the chairmanship of the Mayor of London to improve recycling in the capital.
The proposal was announced on 14 June 2007, and that morning at an environment conference in City Hall, the Mayor outlined his support for the government proposals.
Two hours later, a statement was sent from the Mayor’s press office condemning the proposals for not providing a ‘meaningful change.’
However, at a meeting between the Mayor the London Councils chairman on 28 June 2007, the Mayor reversed his opposition and offered his support for the government proposals.
Despite this promise, the Mayor has again reversed his decision, and now plans to withdraw his support for the proposed Waste and Recycling Board.
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