County councillor response in Voice is a fiction

Cllr Reg Shore, the Lincolnshire County Council portfolio holder for Waste & Recycling, appears to have read a completely different document to me, based on his recent letter in the Spalding Voice.
The county council have not been doing any ‘working with’ as far as South Holland is concerned. What they have done, is tell us that they will no longer be paying recycling credits to the three Lincolnshire councils that have their own recycling contracts. As if that wasn’t enough, they have also told these councils, that the county is taking over the disposal of the recycling that these councils collect.
Just to add insult to injury, the county council has put in place something they are calling transfer payments. The double whammy for the three councils affected, is that these payment will be made to all seven councils, including the four that are not actually loosing any recycling credits, or contract revenue.
Cllr Shore has kindly informed readers that I was wrong about the county council grabbing the £10 a ton South Holland currently receives. At the time of writing my previous blog entry on this issue, I was not privy to the details of the contract the county council had negotiated. Imagine my surprise, when I read a briefing note stating that Lincolnshire County Council had secured a contract that gives them NO REVENUE! Ironically, Cllr Shore emphasises this point in his letter, as though it is somehow to his and the county council’s credit – extraordinary!!
Just to be clear; Lincolnshire County Council will stop paying South Holland DC and two other councils, North and South Kesteven, £42 a ton in recycling credits from 2016. Also, with immediate effect, SHDC will be loosing the £10 a ton paid by the materials contractor and that helped to support our recycling collections.
The financial impact for South Holland will be:
– £377,830 after three years
– £895,570 after five years
Cllr Shore’s claim that every council will gain financially and that this should be viewed as ‘a real opportunity’, is technically correct, but only if you ignore completely the last 20+ years of recycling credit payments received from LCC and the last 3 years of revenue, received for our recycling, from our various contracts.
The proposal now, is that we all pretend that the last 20+ years of recycling never happened, that there were no recycling credits and that we were never able to sell our recycling. We also have to ‘pretend’ that we haven’t managed to achieve a recycling rate of 30%. This is because the county council has offered to make incentive payments for any increase in recycling rates, from this point forward. They have also offered to share some of the revenue they receive from the contractor – a contract that currently provides no revenue – how generous is that!
Had the county council been more upfront and open about these proposals and agreed to discuss openly all of the financial issues, there would have been no need for this hostility. Unfortunately, the only image in Cllr Shore’s ‘big picture’ is the one showing the county council, with every other council in Lincolnshire conveniently cropped out.

As a footnote, the government has just announced the financial settlement
For the forthcoming financial year. South Holland will be loosing a further 6.2% of its funding, equivalent to £0.755m.

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Psychological test for UKIP MPs & MEPs – what about your councillors?

Apparently, UKIP are concerned about the ‘mental state’ of those wishing to become an MP, or MEP for their party.
However, there’s no suggestion that they have the same concerns about those wishing to become councillors. Does that mean that these potential candidates are somehow different, or of better ‘mental state’ than their prospective MPs and MEPS colleagues? Of course they aren’t, in fact, quite the opposite, given some of the press reports in recent months.
Indeed, the performance of UKIP councillors, elected to Lincolnshire County Council in 2013, strongly suggests that those wishing to enter local government politics, as UKIP councillors, definitely need their heads testing!

UKIP chief says half his time is spent weeding out “lunatics”…

UKIP logo“The man in charge of vetting Ukip’s election candidates has complained that ‘half my time is spent weeding out the lunatics’. David Soutter, who found himself at the heart of a party sex scandal last week, has been conducting psychological tests on prospective MPs and MEPs in order to ensure that they are ‘vaguely sane’. During a speech at Ukip’s Welsh conference last weekend, Soutter admitted that the party lacks discipline” – Sunday Times (£)

…but a UKIP candidate denounces his “pooftah” colleagues

“The UKIP activist picked last week to fight a key Parliamentary seat made homophobic, racist and obscene comments and accused Nigel Farage of corruption, it was revealed last night. In tape-recorded phone calls leaked to The Mail on Sunday, Kerry Smith, chosen to fight Ukip target seat of Basildon South in Essex, mocks ‘f***ing disgusting old pooftahs’…Makes baseless claims about party leader Farage accepting a bribe to promote a Ukip ally over another rival” – Mail on Sunday

Councils continue to suffer from the Labour legacy

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
Next five years to see higher-than-expected cuts
10 December, 2014 | By Kaye Wiggins

Council spending is set to be over 4% lower than previously projected in both 2016-17 and the following two years, it has emerged, after George Osborne heralded “colossal” spending cuts.

Forecasts published by the Office for Budget Responsibility in the wake of the autumn statement last week showed “net current expenditure” by English local authorities would be £106.9bn in 2016-17, down from the £111.9bn forecast by the watchdog in March.

The OBR’s latest forecast for 2017-18 spending is £106.9, down from £111.6bn in its March forecast. In 2018-19 the OBR predicts spending will fall by £4.9bn more than it forecast in March.

The revised forecasts, which have emerged as councils await the publication of the provisional local government finance settlement for 2015-16, were due in large part to a steeper-than-assumed fall in central government grants to councils.

This came after the publication of the autumn statement revealed plans to accelerate public spending cuts in a bid to balance the budget by 2018-19 and generate a surplus by 2019-20.

The OBR’s gloomy forecasts also showed local authority current spending, excluding education, public health and housing benefit, would fall from 4% of nominal GDP in 2009-10 to 2.5% by 2019-20. In 2014-15 the figure is 2.9%.

In a speech on the day of the autumn statement, OBR chair Robert Chote said there was “no robust basis” on which to assume that cuts in overall public spending were “undeliverable”.

Mr Chote noted that councils were “in aggregate still adding to their financial reserves rather than running them down.”

The OBR’s figures showed non-schools reserves would rise from 10.7% of councils’ net current expenditure in 2009-10 to 24% in 2019-20. The watchdog has assumed councils will add to their current reserves by £1.5bn in 2014-15 and will continue to add to their reserves, but by decreasing amounts, until 2018-19.

The OBR reached its figures using Treasury policy assumptions for total spending after 2015-16, assuming grants to local government remained the same as a proportion of overall spending as they were due to be in 2015-16.

The figures emerged as Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said public spending cuts would be made on a “colossal scale” over the next five years. This could cause the “role and shape of the state” to change “beyond recognition”, he said.

Jon Rowney, London Councils’ strategic lead for finance, procurement and performance, told LGC: “Our early analysis suggests the pace of the cuts could be steeper and faster than previously thought.” The body had previously estimated London boroughs would see a 60% reduction in core funding from central government between 2010-11 and 2018-19.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said: “What these figures actually show is a big increase in council reserves. Local authorities should of course maintain a healthy cushion when balancing the books but such substantial reserves are completely unnecessary and should be tapped into to protect frontline services and keep council tax down.

“Councils should be making creative use of reserves to address short-term costs, such as restructuring or investing now to realise savings in the longer-term.”

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Recycling rates under threat

Although we in South Holland are currently enjoying some success in our campaign to increase recycling, the article below highlights the challenges yet to come.
Just some of the emerging issues for us, will be the end of the external funding pot we succeeded in gaining a couple of years ago. Added to this, Lincolnshire County Council, in their wisdom and for no other reason than to save money for themselves and grab the available materials revenue, are in the process of taking control of our recycling. We will have to continue to collect the recycling, but the council will not receive any recycling credits from the county council, with the county also receiving the £10 a ton we currently get.
As is usual with everything the county council does, it hadn’t thought through the details and have now had to come up with an incentive scheme for those districts they have ‘stolen’ recycling collections from. Without such a scheme, why would we bother to continue to put any effort into increasing our recycling collection rate?
Further pressure is also being applied by the recycling industry, under the cloak of an environmental pressure group. Supposedly committed to ‘saving the planet’ by increasing recycling rates, the group is actually funded by the recycling industry, so have more of a financial imperative than an environmental one. I believe that, despite loosing a high court case, they are still trying to ‘force’ councils into collecting recycling in separate streams, as opposed to a single container, as we do in South Holland.

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
Recycling could fall for first time this century
8 December, 2014 | By Corin Williams

Local authority budget cuts and new recycling standards could lead to a reduction in England’s recycling rates for the first time this century.

With a tiny 0.05 percentage point increase in English local authority household recycling between 2012 and 2013, to 44.16%, it is now considered highly unlikely that the UK will meet the target set by the EU that 50% of waste will be recycled by 2020.

The Chartered Institution for Wastes Management (CIWM) said there was a “real risk” that recycling rates would decline over the next 12 months.

Chief executive Steve Lee said: “We have seen a lot of welcome emphasis recently on recycling quality. Now the government must put quantity back at the top of the priority list.”

A new code of practice aims to boost the quality of waste materials sent for recycling. One consequence of this could be that waste management companies increase the quality threshold for material they receive from local authorities – thereby reducing the recycling rate.

Steve Rymill, a waste management consultant at the environment and energy firm Ricardo-AEA, told LGC’s sister title Materials Recycling World that councils’ environmental and regulatory service budgets had fallen by 16% between 2010-11 and 2013-14.

“Authorities have been evaluating what their statutory service requirements are and this has meant that a number of areas, such as communications and food waste collections, have been subject to significant cuts,” he said.

The budget just isn’t there to fund the much-needed communications campaigns required to further improve recycling performance.

“The authorities that have seen big increases in their recycling rate are where they have generally coincided with a service change – something which requires positive communications messages to residents.”

Mr Rymil said it was a particular concern that some councils had actually seen a decline in rates, which was partly blamed on street sweeping being reclassified and garden waste services being retracted.

“We’d expect this to continue next year, as more authorities are considering paring back their service, where permissible.”

Phil Conran, director at consultancy 360 environmental, told MRW some councils with high rates were seeing a significant proportion rejected with contractors complaining the material was not good enough to recycle.

High recycling rates achieved at the expense of quality are generally not sustainable,” he said.

“Some [recycling plants] might prevent local authorities from delivering [mixed]materials with glass in it, because of quality issues and because of the potential impact of the code of practice. If they revert to bottle banks to collect glass rather than as part of the mix, that would potentially depress recycling rates.

“I think there is every possibility that the rates will decline.”

Mr Conran added that many questions remained over why some English councils achieved high rates when others floundered. “The UK clearly can achieve [the EU target of] 50%. It’s just a matter of bringing everyone up to best practice,” he said.

Meanwhile, the latest statistics on waste and recycling in Wales indicate the country is on track to meet its 2015-16 statutory target, the Welsh environment ministry has said, with one council recycling more than 70% of its waste.

Between April and June, Welsh local authorities recycled, reused or composted 58% of municipal waste, an all-time high.

This is in line with a 58% target for 2015-16.

“Wales is the only UK nation to set statutory recycling targets and we are leading the way in the UK,” said natural resources minister Carl Sargeant. “Welsh local authorities are already meeting the European target of recycling a minimum of 50% by 2020.”

Most Welsh councils reported a quarter-on-quarter increase in the period and recycled over half of the waste they collected, except for Rhondda Cynon Taf, which slipped six percentage points to 47%.

The best performer was Denbighshire, which topped the table with a municipal waste reuse, recycling and composting rate of 71%, followed by Pembrokeshire at 69%, Monmouthshire at 66% and Bridgend at 64%.