Andrew's Blog

By Andrew Bird, LARAC Chair / 5 December 16

It’s been a busy summer and autumn representing Local Authorities around the country as LARAC Chair – I spend many a travelling mile writing up reports to present progress on many and various projects to the Exec members for our quarterly meetings.  This a brief round-up of those reports to let you know what I attend on behalf of LARAC, how I represent your views, and why.  By the way, it's not all wining and dining, as the photo may suggest!

Work with DEFRA
There are have been two quarterly meetings over the summer down in London – the latest one including a very interesting briefing from DEFRA on thoughts around leaving the UK and negotiations on the EU Circular Economy Package.  I feel it’s vital we keep our representation to the fore here so that we keep the needs of the Local Authority in there at the base of negotiations, although outcomes are never guaranteed.

Work with DEFRA/WRAP
Consistency Advisory Group. There are three work-streams: Vision & Business Case, Local Authority Initiatives and Supply Chain Initiatives.  LARAC is represented on all of them.  Formal launch of the business case (the work having been completed and agreed by steering group members – where LARAC is represented) by was made by the then Minister, Rory Stewart back in July.

Work with Trade Associations and others
I attended a very useful meeting the TAG on areas were private and public sector organisation can work together.  We are thinking of a joint letter to the new Minister looking at key areas where policy needs to be developed.

I also attend the Waste Network Chairs meetings and at the last one there was a useful update from the LGC on the judicial review on Trade Waste Services.  It was unclear at that point what the outcome would be, however this has subsequently been confirmed that HMRC’s stance is correct. Other items discussed were the consistency project, an update on the monitoring of DCLG’s incentive fund, and the EA’s list of sites which LAs are using, and which have issues in terms of their permits and could have implications for LAs delivering materials to them.

I recently attended and spoke at the Confederated Paper Industry’s meeting in Birmingham on the subject of LA paper collections – focusing on the challenges faced by our sector, and also touched upon falling availability of paper in recycling collections. There were a good range of questions and debate from the delegates attending, with quality of paper a major topic, and it was a good opportunity to keep the LA situation in the forefront of the conversation.

RECOUP invited me to speak at their annual conference and once again I was able to present the challenges faced by LAs particularly in England, but also the opportunities we now need to explore, in particular around future financing of services, pay to throw and extended producer responsibility.

Similarly, I spoke at the Kent Waste Partnership Conference where a great programme was put together by Paldeep Bhatti who is also on the LARAC Executive committee.

We are also developing co-events with CIWM – and recently in the NW we have hosted a joint open meeting – which was a success and will be repeated annually (a report from Carole Taylor is in the Members’ area).  I have also I attended and gave a presentation at the Better Connected Waste Workshop, facilitated by CIWM. Better Connected are an organisation who review local authority websites nationally, and score them appropriately. Their presentation on this year’s findings was very useful and informative.  I spoke on my own authority’s recent implementation of an in-cab system which becomes our back-office system and our front office CRM system.  Our now annual joint midlands event with CIWM took place on the 8th June. Again, we were hosted by Craemer at their manufacturing plant in Telford. We had presentations on Recycling Quality and thoughts around the tragic incident in Glasgow, and what lessons we as collection services can take forward when recruiting and monitoring employees.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend our Scotland Conference in May and attend and present at our main conference in October.  Both very informative and useful events where we were able to spread best practice and encourage discussion around new ideas.  Being a collection of 4 countries is a strength which presents us with the opportunity to take advantage of four different approaches for us to reinterpret locally.  I was unable to attend the Welsh Conference this summer, the first one I’ve missed since becoming Chair.  But I was able to look at all the presentations in our Members’ area (as you can) and again I can see that Paul Quayle put together a challenging and informative day, so can understand how well it was received.  Next year we are hoping to help revive a Northern Ireland Conference – following the reorganisation there.

I will now blog on a quarterly basis, if you have any questions on anything I am doing on your behalf, or want to pick my brains, then please do get in touch at admin@larac.org.uk and I’ll do my best to address your concerns.  

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