There is no conflict between localism and recent Government announcements on preferred waste policies, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
In an interview with the Today Programme, Cameron responded to a question about why the Government would “ban things, like the use of some charges at household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) in some local areas” in the context of localism.
Cameron said: “Generally speaking we are devolving a lot of power and authority to local levels, we’re also taking ring-fences off [local authority grants] and saying to local authorities ‘it’s your money, you spend it as you choose’.
“Generally speaking, if you talk to colleagues in local Government, they’ll say ‘okay they’ve cut our funding’ and they’re upset about that, obviously. But they would say ‘they’ve taken off a lot of the strings on a lot of the money we’re being given and giving us new powers’.
“We’re giving local authorities the general power of competence, so they’re able to go out and fix problems that need fixing and do things that need to be done.”
However, the comments have been criticised by Friends of the Earth resource use campaigner Julian Kirby. He said: “The Prime Minister’s professed commitment to ‘localism’ comes unstuck when set against his Government’s bullying of councils over waste fines, charges and even how frequently they collect our rubbish.
“Cameron needs to step in to ensure the waste review doesn’t just pester councils whilst failing to sort out our national waste problem.
“Instead, the Government should set an overarching ambition to halve England’s waste by 2020, supporting councils rather than harassing them for short-term political gain.”
The news follows Eric Pickles’ comments in The Telegraph, describing the Somerset Waste Board’s plan to charge residents to use HWRCs as “utterly counterproductive” and warned that the plans would “create perverse incentives for fly-tipping”.