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Thursday, 22 February 2018

Severnside Energy Recovery Centre

This year will mark the first year of operation of the Severnside Energy Recovery Centre, which was commissioned by the West London Waste Authority (WLWA) back in 2013. This drastically reduces the amount of waste that West London sends to landfill.  It also supplies enough electricity to power around 50,000 homes.  More details can be found on the WLWA site.

Reducing landfill is a key policy objective in meeting the waste hierarchy objectives outlined below that I have mentioned before.

Image result for waste hierarchy

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Lines of Accountability

It is striking that it is becoming increasingly common to hold "lobbies" and "protests" aimed at people who don't actually make decisions on a given subject.  That was very noticeable in the Charlie Gard case, where people protested outside Downing Street and Buckingham Palace because they did not like the decision of the Courts.  Of course, neither the Prime Minister nor the Queen has any power to overturn a Court verdict.

A few days ago, Brent Momentum were tweeting that they had demanded Cllr Muhammed Butt do what they want over Labour's manifesto (They weren't very specific).  Don't they realise that it is the Labour Party that decides the content of its manifesto not any particular councillor?

Similarly, Brent Council has had protests recently about Academisation of the Village School in Queensbury.  Do the people making these protests really just not grasp that school governors make decisions about schools and Councils (while retaining responsibilities with insufficient powers) have very little power to make decisions?

In each of these cases, we seem to see groups of people making demands on people who are not in a position to fulfil them and then react with outrage when nothing is achieved.  Is the ignorance implied genuine, or is it that expressing the outrage is seen as more important than actually changing the decision?  I genuinely don't know, but it strikes me as extremely corrosive of local democracy.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Turning the Tables on the Tories

Over the past few years, I have sometimes had the impression that some people have seen the Tory government's inept economic mismanagement and targeting of local government as an opportunity to rerun the 1980s.  This was a time when a small number of unsuccessful Labour run local authorities were used by the then Tory government to discredit Labour as a whole.

Certainly, I always felt that was Eric Pickles' playbook.

Regrettably, some people "on the Left" seem to have wanted the same thing.

It seems to me that the collapse of Northants offers Labour an alternative narrative.  Northants was a Tory run Borough that has been run into the ground and is now facing a series of deeply depressing decisions.  The evidence suggests it will struggle to implement them.  They seem to include a fire sale of the Council's assets to buy time before the abolition of the authority itself.  Maintaining any sort of Authority before abolition will become increasingly difficult as staff seek find alternative jobs and no one will want to replace them.  This is no doubt why local Tory MPs and Tory councillors are scrambling to escape responsibility.

Together with the failure of contractors like Carillion, the Northants failure (and future corporate failures by other local authorities) show up the failure of Tory ideology in local government.  This leaves Labour free to make a case on value for money in local government rather than the cheapest price, which has been the essence of the Labour case since the 1990s.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Practical Steps After Carillion Demise

Local Government Lawyer has some practical guidance for how Councils impacted by the liquidation of Carillion can take back their services.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Cllr John Warren

Looking at the Kilburn Times, I am afraid I have to say that I find Cllr John Warren quite delusional.  His argument that Brent Council has lots of options to limit Council Tax rises is simply wrong and I suspect he knows it.  Even the Conservative government doesn't argue that since they build an expectation of Council Tax rises in their financial modelling to pay for rising social care costs.

The Council Tax rises, whereas only moderating pressures on social care and other parts of the Council budget, are effectively forced by his own government's record of spending cuts and economic failure and he really shouldn't try to pretend otherwise.

This is the kind of magical thinking that put Northants where it is today