CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

A mistake to bat away calls for waste contract review

26 November, 2020

Waste contract review: ‘Functional scrutiny is the life blood of any healthy democracy’

JUDGING by the volume of photos posted on social media each day you would think Camden’s streets were constantly lined with overflowing piles of big bags, rubbish strewn haphazardly across every pavement.

This is not quite the case but, under the Veolia regime, mounds of uncollected refuse are certainly a common sight.

Recycling rates are significantly down on last year – and lower still than they were a decade ago. Fly-tipping levels are the second highest in the country, as Conservative leader Oliver Cooper has suggested, (Labour blocks review of Camden’s waste contract despite filthy streets warning, November 24).

The amount of waste being sent to the incinerator is also increasing. Because of the privatised contract, complaints have to be directed to the company meaning they often go unanswered.

Naturally, government cuts to local government were behind the significantly reduced service implemented in 2017.

The debate about the future of the contract with the company came under the spotlight at full council on Monday night.

Opposition councillors’ calls for a review were, predictably, knocked back and in the end a motion was passed praising Veolia for its fine service saying it was “performing well overall”.

We imagine there are very few residents in Camden who would agree with that conclusion. Labour should think again about its absolute refusal to allow a review of its rubbish contract.

Camden may not be failing when it comes to waste collection but there must be room for meaningful questions to be properly addressed.

Sian Berry is right and must be supported when she said that the opposition councillors should be given the means to push for a review.

The Conservatives have long made a review of bin collections a priority and that, apparently, is the reason Labour is so opposed to even entertaining it.

Functional scrutiny is the life blood of any healthy democracy. To dismiss it, is a kind of totalitarian thinking.

If Camden should be keen to dismiss criticism that it is running a one party state, it should be showing a greater belief in the power of arguments and debate.

HS2 scandal

FIVE years ago in the corridors of the House of Commons, the council, under its previous administration, struck a Faustian pact with HS2 Ltd.

It was agreed they would stop objecting to the railway project in exchange for a series of “assurances” aimed at protecting residents left living near the construction sites.

These assurances have proved to be worthless, not worth the paper they were hastily written on. The living conditions of residents in the blocks just yards from the site are nothing short of a scandal.

The council’s new hardline approach against HS2 Ltd must be welcomed. Unfortunately for residents, it is likely to have come far too late.

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