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Bettison to leave LGA environment board chair role

Local Government Association environment board chair Paul Bettison will step down from his role at the end of this month and be replaced by councillor Gary Porter, the leader of South Holland District Council, with effect from 1 September.

Bettison ends his three-year tenure as environment board chair and has told MRW how he thoroughly enjoyed the role.

He added: Its been three years of hard work and learning and I have learned a lot over that time. I have had the privilege of working with some fantastic colleagues and both political parties. I have met some fantastic people in the environment world who I would not have met if I was not in this role. For instance, people like the Friends of the Earth and people like Jonathan Porritt [environmentalist] and HRH the Prince of Wales. I have also been privileged to meet people not well known, who know their stuff and are well aware of their brief and what they are doing.

He joked about some of the dramatic moments he had faced during his tenure: Some of the highlights for me have been the name tags given to me by the press. For instance, I was given the name bin-barren and the Daily Telegraph called me Trash-Tsar and the Times was a bit kinder and called me Lord of the Flies.

I will also miss little things like being chased on my holiday by the Trevor McDonald Tonight programme that was following a story about some British waste being found down an Indian well. I was extremely grateful to the LGA communications team who sent someone down to support me.

The LGA has campaigned for alternate weekly collections, repeated calls for the Treasury to return landfill tax to councils and called for retailers to reduce packaging while Bettison was chair.

He said that he will still campaign on these issues, particularly for retailers to reduce packaging, as he believes the Packaging Regulations are a toothless tiger.

Over the last three years, England and Welsh recycling rates have increased considerably.

Three years ago we were the dustbin of Europe that was a phrase I first used. We were actually behind Portugal and Greece in recycling rates. And why should we not aim to be better than the Netherlands or Germany? I am really glad that we are moving forward with that, Bettison added.

Gary Porter, the new chair, has served as a councillor at South Holland District council which includes the Spalding, Lincolnshire, The Fens and Welland areas.

Porter has an interest in waste and recycling, as the LGAs website revealed: My main areas of service interest are housing and waste issues, although just about everything else comes across my desk at some point of the year.

Bettison will now go on to chair the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services a part of the LGA group and local Government central body responsible for overseeing local authority regulatory and related services in the UK.

He said: I hope I have left local Government and the environment a little bit better after my tenure. I wish Gary all the best and I am sure he will do a very good job.

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