Following an announcement yesterday by Ben Bradshaw, Minister of State in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, that the government is to set up a statutory London waste and recycling board, Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has written to the minister to object to the government’s approach to London’s waste and recycling.
Although Mr Livingstone supports the setting up a London Single Waste Disposal Authority through the Greater London Authority Bill which is currently being considered in Parliament the Mayor has told government that he sees “no purpose” in participating in a Board which has no statutory powers and “which is no more than an administrative mechanism to deliver a funding stream.”
Ken Livingstone’s letter to Mr Bradshaw says that the setting-up of a London waste and recycling board is no substitute for a Single Waste Disposal Authority and that the proposed funding of £19m is “a drop in the ocean in terms of the required long-term investment needed”.
The full text of his letter reads:
Thank you for your letter of 13 June 2007.
I’m afraid you haven’t been properly briefed by your officials on my position. You refer in your letter to ‘broad agreement’ that simply does not exist. You were copied into my letter of 8 May to Merrick Cockell and into his response. This exchange made clear the absence of agreement on key points. To summarise:
– The Forum/ Fund, now the Board, is no substitute for a Single Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA) and will have no statutory powers to deliver the meaningful change that is urgently needed in London. The fact that you are proposing putting the Board on a statutory footing is neither here nor there – it will still have no statutory powers whatsoever.
– As you know, I disagree with the proposed balance of representation on the Board, which may result in deadlock.
– The proposed £19 million that the Board will be able to disburse is a drop in the ocean in terms of the required long-term investment needed, even if used as leverage for further investment. Furthermore, there is no funding guaranteed beyond the first year.
The Board, as proposed in your amendment, represents no progress on these important issues and as such I see no benefit to London in my participating. The Board does not represent a strategic policy solution but a political gesture, and as such is no more than a fig leaf over the problems.
The best way ahead if you continue to rule out the immediate creation of a SWDA, would be to take forward a revised version of Lord Whitty’s amendment. The amendment would expand the situations in which the Secretary of State can exercise the section 10 power to establish a single waste disposal authority for London, and would give the Mayor the power to issue guidance and directions to any such authority. This would make clear to local authorities that unless they significantly improve their performance, the Secretary of State will intervene to create a SWDA. (The previous version of Lord Whitty’s amendment gave the Mayor, not the Secretary of State, the power to intervene in these circumstances.) This amendment taken with your amendment to create a new Board (properly constituted) would provide both short-term and longer-term tools to address the challenges we face. A draft of my proposed amendment is attached for your consideration.
Whatever route we take forward, I will continue to monitor and highlight the Government’s delivery in respect of LATs, incineration, recycling, hazardous waste and litter, in order to ensure that Londoners are aware of the impact of government policies on their environment.
Mayor of London”