Sunday, March 18, 2007

Green, Environment and Heritage Select Committee

A difficult meeting really

There was no politician available for us to question, the officers present had to gamely try to handle all our questions and comments, many of which were political and so not possible for them to answer really. Neither the Exec member nor her Deputy were present (I am sure for perfectly valid reasons, this is not a personal attack) and I hadn't experienced this before so asked if it was a rare occurrence, it is apparently. I asked that in future someone at least should be found to sit and field some of the stuff the council staff cannot be expected to deal with. I think this will be taken on board for the future. No-one disagreed with me.

We were I think all deeply disappointed too to learn that Fair Trade is not a real concern of this council, it having no dedicated staff or budget. I will be saying something publicly about this because as a co-operator I am appalled that the city can lay credit to being a Fair Trade city when it does nothing itself (okay so we drink fair trade coffee in council meetings, big deal!). No money, no staff, a rubbish website and it sounded as though the staff who I think work in procurement, were raiding the petty cash to find the money to put the Fairtrade fortnight event on with the Lamb-banana.

It is a disgrace, they should be ashamed of themselves

I shall be asking the council to be fair to Fair Trade in future.

We had an interesting presentation of a report on the rollout of the new kerbside collection of the recycling scheme but it all only serves to illustrate why the city is so far behind everyone else. I can remember talking to officials in Kirklees about how they were going to finally roll-out their recyling kerbside collections to the rural areas, having long since done everyone else, and that must have been in 2003 I think. That is four years Liverpool has lost on everyone else, at the very least. No wonder we are last in the league.

I dont know how long Cllr Turner has been the Exec member for this portfolio so dont know whether it is her fault or whether it was one of her colleagues before a reshuffle who managed not to move any progress at all on recycling. I hope whoever it is or was doesnt get any other important jobs to mess up.

I am pleased that steps are being taken at last to move us forward but they are still not bold enough for me. We need to be radical now or face huge rises in council tax bills as the cost of taking rubbish to landfill soars. The report that was presented recommended alternate weekly collections which Nick Small has been promoting for a long time, but I dont know how far we will get as Cllr Turner has already said "Not on my watch" at a recent committee meeting.

I asked about rolling out recycling in the terraces with narrow entries, which is about half of my ward, I asked last month too, but there is no answer to that yet.

I also asked the officers what steps they were taking to protect Lewis's and in particular the statue, as an iconic feature of the city and its heritage. We were told that there is no listing and it is not in a conservation area so the council has applied for a "spot listing", I think that was the phrase, that was good news and I appreciate it.

I also asked the committee to write to the campaign committee who had successfully fought to keep the Woolton Cinema open, another vital part of our city's heritage.

Much of the content of the meeting was disappointing but at least we were more or less all in agreement about it, so there is hope.

No comments: