Councils in England have expressed envy for counterparts in Scotland and Wales for having what is seen as clearer political direction.
At an RWM debate, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council head of recycling Trevor Nicholl (second from left, above) said politics should stay out of waste management decisions.
The council switched to an insourced arrangement for its collection service this year, with food waste sent to Biffa’s anaerobic digestion plant in Cannock.
Labour is the ruling party and Nicholl said, as such, it was more ideologically inclined for waste services to be under public control.
But political ideology should not be a factor in waste management decisions unless clearly defined at central Government level, he added.
“Politics either has to be removed from waste management or it has to be engaged with waste management in a single direction.
“Politics is a bigger issue within waste management in England because the politicians have not got a steer. In Wales, they know what they need to deliver. In England, the portfolio holder wakes up one day and thinks ‘commingled is a great idea’. The week after they think ‘let’s do food waste’.”
He added that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could make a lack of central political direction even more acute.
At the preceding debate (second from left, below), research firm Soenecs’ managing director David Greenfield suggested that England’s largely two-tier local authority system was holding it back from making the same progress as other home nations.
He said: “The need for partnerships is going to be crucial [in future]. Maybe districts and boroughs should disappear. Not having two-tier authorities could make it more efficient.”
Single-tier authorities in Scotland and Wales may have aided greater improvement in recycling rates, he added.
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