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Mayor rejects Government's London Waste and Recycling Board

Government plans to set up a statutory London Waste and Recycling Board have been greeted with delight and dismay.

The new Board will manage the £19 million London Waste and Recycling Fund and will help to deliver increased sustainable waste management. It may also provide strategic advice for the London Boroughs and the Mayor, said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw.

However, despite the plans being welcomed by London Councils, London Mayor Ken Livingstone has rejected them in a letter to Bradshaw and called them a political gesture.

Livingstone has said that the Board is no substitute for a Single Waste Disposal Authority, something he has long argued for and that is under consideration in the House of Lords.

But London Councils, which does not support a Single Waste Disposal Authority, sees this move as a backing of its proposals to put the Fund on a statutory footing. It said: That this would give the new body greater dynamism, a clearer definition of purpose and make it easier for it to receive Government funding.

Commenting at the time of the announcement London Councils chairman councillor Merrick Cockell said: In this new spirit of co-operation, we look forward to discussing the chairmanship of the Board with the Mayor.

But following the Mayors rejection of the Board, a London Councils spokesman said: We were surprised by the Mayors rejection as at a climate change seminar for the London Boroughs that morning he had been in support of the Government proposals.

We want the Mayor to join in and chair the Board. The time for debate is over, we need to start work quickly.

Talking about the plans, Bradshaw said: "This framework provides an opportunity for London Government at all levels to work constructively together with business and other key stakeholders.

The Board will be able to direct the Fund towards issues that London itself identifies as its priorities, including stimulating investment in infrastructure.

It will not take functions from existing bodies, and it will not be a waste disposal or collection authority.

The Government Office for London regional director Liz Meek, who will work with stakeholders to agree the details of membership and constitution of the Board, said: We believe that the best way of delivering the necessary step-change in waste management is to bring key stakeholders together in a small and focused body to find practical solutions for a sustainable future."

However, Livingstones letter to Bradshaw said that he sees no purpose in participating in a Board which has no statutory powers to deliver real change.

Livingstone said that the proposed funding of £19m is a drop in the ocean in terms of the required long-term investment needed. He added: The Board does not represent a strategic policy solution but a political gesture, and as such is no more than a fig leaf over the problems.

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