Sunday, 16 April 2017

Welsh Councils given "Final. Final Warning" over recycling.

The BBC reports that three local authorities which missed a recycling target last year are to avoid fines of more than £600,000.
Newport, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen all missed a target to recycle 58% of waste by 2015/16.
Ministers have set tough targets for the amount of waste authorities should recycle, reuse or compost, with the threat of fines to those councils that do not meet them.
In 2015/16 the target was set at 58%, which 19 of Wales' 22 councils met or exceeded, with Wales as a whole recycling 60.2% of waste.
But Newport and Torfaen both fell just short at 57% each, while Blaenau Gwent's performance was the lowest at 49%.
Based on a penalty of £200 per tonne that the target was missed by, Blaenau Gwent council said it would have been fined £573,000 while Torfaen council said its fine would have been £49,800.
Newport council could not provide a figure at this time.
Coincidentally Blaneau Gwent and Torfaen are the two councils most likely to remain under Labour control after May's election.
It would not look good if a Welsh Labour Government fined a Labour controlled council before May election.
However it seems  the Welsh Government has now decided not to penalise them, saying it expects their performance to improve.
What we used to call in the workplace their "Final Final Warning".
Opposition AMs criticised ministers, however, with one suggesting the credibility of the government's strategy has been "lost".
The Welsh Government - which set the first statutory recycling targets in the UK - said 
"significant improvements" are expected for the authorities' recycling performance in 2016/17.
"As such, a decision was taken not to issue penalties on this occasion," a spokeswoman said, adding fines could still be imposed in future if local authorities continue to miss targets.
It is not the first time the Welsh Government has decided not to fine authorities for missing recycling targets. 
In 2015, it waived penalties for Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Another two Labour controlled councils  (Newport run by the Tories and LibDems may be lucky here).

But Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru environment spokesman, said: 

"It seems to me that the credibility of what the Welsh Government is trying to achieve is clearly lost when you go through two cycles of target setting and two cycles of failure by certain authorities, and you just don't follow through on it."

 UKIP local government spokesman Gareth Bennett, said the policy was "ill-conceived" and that the imposition of fines "would only serve to hit local authorities and council tax payers in the pocket".

True but as Conservative environment spokesman David Melding points out
"There must be an incentive for the underperforming councils to improve recycling rates,"  "and the Welsh Government is in danger of appearing to be all bark and no bite".
A Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesman ( since their only AM is part of the government in "Not a Coalition" said:
 "The Welsh Government cannot possibly hope to meet recycling targets if councils know they'll get away with missing their recycling targets by sweet talking the government."
In forthcoming years, the targets will get tougher to meet - with authorities expected to recycle 64% of waste in 2020 and 70% in 2025.

During this time a number of Welsh Councils may cease to be under Labour Control . It will be interesting to see if the Welsh Government  start getting tough.

Going back to  Gareth Bennett;s point  that fines "hit  council tax payers in the pocket".I wonder if the councils meeting the targets are already increasing resources  when it comes to recycling  and costing council tax payers more.

Prehaps we should see figures on what councils are spending on recycling per head of population  along with their success rate?

 Maybe the Government should consider asking for powers to impose a wage freeze on Chief Executives and senior Councillors , If it was their pockets that were affected they might just try harder.
 

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