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Feature: Make the most of networking

It is your first conference as LARAC chairman. How do you feel about hosting the event?

I'm a bit nervous, to be honest, but also looking forward to it. There is a big team behind the event that put together the nuts and bolts, and I suspect they are a bit more fraught at the moment than I am!

What have you enjoyed most about past conferences you have attended?

During the past two or three years, the local authority case studies have been really successful. People like to hear what their colleagues at other local authorities have done to learn from them. Although I did enjoy the guy who stood up at the lectern a couple of years ago with his guitar and sang a song!

Why do you think LARAC members, and, indeed, non-members should attend?

When you look at the programme that is being put on over the two days, it is really varied and has real relevance to people in their jobs. This year we have a European angle, but that will still be relevant to people's work. But one of the best things about the LARAC conference is that it's a really great networking opportunity. There are loads of chances to meet colleagues from other authorities or from the recycling and waste management industry and find out what they are doing and how they can help you.

Are you pleased that Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw and Shadow Environment Secretary Oliver Letwin are speaking at this year's event?

Yes, definitely. The thing lacking in the past two years has been not having a Government minister to speak. People have told us this is the thing that would improve the conference. So we have made up for it this year with two key political figures, and this really tops off the conference and makes up for not having them before.

Do you think you will see contrasting viewpoints from these speakers?

I think it will highlight what would happen to recycling if we had a change of Government. But I think a lot of people will be interested to hear what Bradshaw will have to say as he is still relatively new to the job. We will want to know, for example, what will happen to local authorities who do not meet their targets next year.

Will there be opportunities to question Bradshaw and Letwin?

Yes - all being well we will have the opportunity to ask them questions after they have spoken. But I also hope to grab them outside of the conference hall and question them a bit more!

LARAC is 20 years old. How will you be celebrating this birthday?

It's a special occasion because it is an achievement to have got this far as an organisation. LARAC is a volunteer organisation as everybody involved also works for their own local authority. To get this far is a really success story, and so we will be celebrating on the Members' Day on Monday October 24 and also at the 'meet the exec' event on that evening.

The National Recycling Awards are taking place at the same time and in the same city. Will you be partying here too?

We'll be celebrating because members will be up
for awards. It is nice to see them being recognised for what they have done. It is great to see how good local authorities can be, the innovative work they are doing and the partnerships they are building.

  • The LARAC conference is taking place on October 25-26 at Sheffield City Hall, with Members Day o

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