Another government minister playing mind games with local government

All junior pupils to be enrolled in a libraryEvery junior school student in the country will be enrolled in a local library, Nicky Morgan will pledge today. The Education Secretary said it is a “national mission” to improve literacy levels of young children. Officials in the education department hope that the drive could stop closures of libraries across the country. Local authorities often close libraries and justify their decision by saying that there are not enough members to warrant continued funding.

So, Nicky Morgan is going to make it a “national mission” is she?  Is she also going to make it a nationally funded mission, so that councils aren’t forced to cut other services just to satisfy yet another piece of government double speak?  I can answer that question, without even bothering to ask the minister.  There’ll be no financial support forthcoming, just more weasel words from ministers, when councils cry foul.

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Another government minister with double standards – now there’s a surprise!

Warning against accepting tobacco firms’ help to clean streets

The Sunday Telegraph reports that local authorities have warned against accepting help from tobacco companies to clean up the streets. An estimated 122 tons of daily UK street litter is from cigarette butts, cigarette packets and used matches. 

In January, Kris Hopkins, then a local government minister, said he wanted tobacco companies to “make a contribution to put right the wrongs as a consequence of their product”. The companies offered to fund measures to help clean the country’s streets last month, but the offer was rejected by Rory Stewart, a junior environment minister. 

In a letter to the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, Mr Stewart said that a tie-up risked undermining councils’ work in promoting public health. Mr Stewart said it was “for local authorities to decide whether they wish to work with the tobacco industry”, but added that councils should take their own legal advice before accepting the support. He said: “Since April 1 2013, local authorities have had responsibility for improving the health of their local populations and for public health services. The Government’s view is that where a local authority enters into a partnership with a tobacco company, this fundamentally undermines the authority’s statutory duty to promote public health.” 

Clive Betts, the chairman of the Commons communities and local government committee, said: “Tobacco products are a major contribution to the litter problem. Councils have to be very careful in any arrangements which would enable them to improve their image. The best solution would be for the Treasury to give up a small amount of tobacco revenue to help councils clean up.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 13 The Sun, Page: 18

Comment

This story appears to be a classic case of government talking out of both sides of its mouth again. It was not so long ago that some minister or other, was suggesting that the polluter should pay. From memory, this was suggestion was focussed on the fast food industry detritus that our roads and motorways were and are awash with, but both the principle and the issue are the same.  

Councils are now lumbered with the job of stopping us all from becoming 250lb burger eating, booze swilling chain smokers, whilst at the same time being told, by George Osbourne, to do it all with reduced funding.  
Taking ‘juniors’ message to its logical conclusion.  This means that all of the revenue the government receives from tobacco and alcohol taxes, along with various taxes received from the companies that produce the stuff and those that produce and peddle any form of fast food, is somehow tainted and should not be accepted by any government department charged with improving public health – well that’s the NHS screwed then!
Just as farcical, is the junior minister’s suggestion that councils should spend thousands of pounds of cash taking legal advice – I wonder if this particular Minster has any outside interests involving the legal profession? Parliament is of course full of lawyers and barristers.  

Personally, I don’t mind being ‘undermined’ a bit in the public health role – whatever that means in legal terms- if it helps me to get a bit more rubbish of of our streets!
 

Is it that the public recycle more when they have no choice?

Well done to Bury MBC for having the courage to introduce 3 weekly waste collections.  I would however like to know what sort of figures they have for contamination of their recycling stream and how the public feel about recycling in principle?  Are residents recycling because they have no choice, or are they doing with enthusiasm, because they feel it’s the right thing to do?  

If the public are recycling more, because they have no choice – you can only get so much in a 140 litre wheelie bin – then it rather proves the theory that the carrot and stick approach works just as well when you only have the stick!

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
Three weekly collection boosts recycling rates7 August, 2015 | By Jack Loughran

Bury MBC has announced a 10% jump in recycling rates following the introduction of three-weekly collections for non-recyclable waste.
Latest figures from October 2014 to May this year show that residual waste was down by almost 4,000 tonnes and the overall recycling rate had risen to 57.5%, LGC’s sister title Materials Recycling World reports.

This led to an increase of around 1,500 tonnes of recyclates collected: paper and cardboard up by 454 tonnes; metal tins and plastic (466 tonnes) and organic material (644 tonnes).

Cllr Tony Isherwood, cabinet member for environment, said the figures showed that the new system had been successful.

“Residents should be proud of the part that they have played in improving Bury’s recycling rates,” he said. “The cost to dispose of one tonne of grey bin waste has risen by £24 to £308 per tonne, huge costs which we can avoid if we recycle all we can and put the right waste in the right bin.

“This is vital, when the council is facing yet another year of multi-million pound cuts. Every penny that we save through recycling is a penny less that we have to cut from other frontline services.”

In March, Falkirk Council became the first in the UK to fully switch to three-weekly residual collections.
As a result of the new regime, food waste collection increased by 75% with up to 9,000 tonnes of food waste diverted from landfill. It intends to introduce four-weekly collections in 2016.