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Cosy relationship poses questions

Eunomia’s Peter Jones can take a well-earned rest after successfully taking on one of big beasts of Fleet Street.

The Daily Mail was compelled to remove articles on waste and recycling issues and publish corrections after Jones complained to the press watchdog. He successfully challenged the accuracy of an article last April stating that millions of tonnes of household recycling was “dumped abroad”.

Two further articles in August, about separate recycling bins and weekly collections, were also corrected. Victory indeed. But, as Jones himself notes, such stories embed ‘truths’ in the wider population. Unfortunately, very few of those who saw the original articles will spot the new ones.

One wonders at the closeness of the newspaper to the communities secretary Eric Pickles when its journalists are setting their news agenda in terms of waste.

The populist politician was back on his hobby horse this week when he put forward the idea - again in the Daily Mail - of amending the Household Waste Recycling Act 2003 to set minimum service standards as a way of promoting weekly bin collections. A DCLG spokesman told MRW the idea was being floated as a possible policy for a future Conservative Government rather than imminent legislation.

Pickles has form. His Guidance on Weekly Rubbish Collections had a botched launch and was widely condemned in the industry. His £250m bin fund in 2012 to achieve a similar goal spectacularly failed, whatever bluster still comes from his spokesmen.

MRW’s work in exposing that failure was mentioned in Parliament at the time. But we could not have done our research without Jennie Rogers and her superb AskJennie.com, a unique online record of council household collection data covering the past decade. Sadly, the website is no more, but Rogers’ work deserves to be preserved as a unique record - how about it, Local Government Association?

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