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Livingstone in bed with Labour over unambitious recycling plans for Lewisham

Mayor Livingstone’s own Waste Strategy clearly states that councils must provide all properties with a kerbside collection of at least three materials by 1 April 2004 but Lewisham Council is planning to renege on this and is committed only to a collection for paper by that date.

In a formal question to Mayor Livingstone, Darren Johnson asked what representations he intended to make, given that Lewisham’s recycling plans are supposed to be consistent with the Mayor’s Waste Strategy. Ken Livingstone, however, is not planning to take any action, promising only to “keep the situation under review.”

Darren Johnson commented, “Ken Livingstone is obviously more interested in protecting his Labour cronies on Lewisham Council than promoting ambitious recycling plans. How on earth is Lewisham ever going to catch up with many London boroughs when the Mayor of London just bows down and allows them to get away with a such a dismal effort. This is a very poor start for the new waste strategy. Ken Livingstone will need to take a stronger stance if he is to have any hope of halting London’s mounting waste problem.”

Last year, Lewisham only managed to recycle 4.2% of household waste, trailing way behind many London boroughs, the majority of whom are achieving double this rate or more.

Darren Johnson said, “That Lewisham only collects paper and card is an absolute disgrace when you consider that Brent, Barnet, Lambeth, and Ealing collect at least five different materials for recycling.”

Notes to Editors

The formal question from Darren Johnson and the Mayors answer are reproduced below:

507 / 2003 – Lewisham and recycling
Darren Johnson
What representations are you planning to make to the London Borough of Lewisham, given that their December 2002 Best Value Review on Waste only commits the Council to implementing a borough-wide kerbside collection for paper by 2003/4 whereas your draft Waste Strategy states that "waste authorities must provide all properties with kerbside recycling collection, except where clearly impractical, of at least three materials, one of which must be paper, by 1st April 2004."?

Do you believe that Lewisham’s position is satisfactory?

The London Borough of Lewisham has undertaken a Best Value Review of waste services. However, it is yet to be agreed formally by the Mayor of Lewisham.

Lewisham has a statutory target to recycle ten per cent of their household waste by 2003/04. My draft strategy proposes that London exceeds its targets and Lewisham have put in place a series of measures that will contribute towards this. Lewisham’s review commits the Council to a borough-wide collection of paper and card a year earlier, by April 2003 (an expansion from 60,000 to 110,000 households). This includes the provision of paper, card, cans and glass banks for all high-rise estates, which account for approximately one third of Lewisham’s housing stock. The expansion of this service has been funded by £1.1 million from the London Recycling Fund.

The Best Value Review also seeks to increase the number of schools with recycling facilities from 20 schools to every school in the borough (over 90) and to undertake a pilot study into the collection of kitchen and garden wastes during Summer 2003. Home compost bins will be provided to residents and a substantial communication and education programme will be undertaken.

These are positive improvements on the services currently provided, although some do not strictly meet the specific proposals in the draft strategy. My draft Municipal Waste Management Strategy is currently being revised following the public consultation process, therefore I will keep the situation under review.

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