By the time you read this one of our Vice Chairs, Dan Roberts, will have given evidence to the House of Commons EFRA Committee on its inquiry into plastic food and drink packaging (see his evidence here). This will be the fourth appearance for LARAC in front of a House of Commons Committee as well as having appeared at a Welsh Assembly one. It is a very important part of the policy work that LARAC does and is an opportunity to get the situation local authorities face at the moment in front of national politicians. These committees usually produce reports that DEFRA has to respond to/take into account, so you are getting right into the policy making process.
It’s a commendable position for a small organisation and it is a position we have worked hard to achieve. And while we like to think the reduced rates to our UK conference is a main pull of LARAC membership, the work we do on the policy side is probably the part that can have the most impact on our members. The committee appearances are a very visible aspect of that work but so many meetings and working groups go on that perhaps you are not aware of. Sometimes we cannot always report fully on them to you, because discussion or topics may be sensitive or at early stages.
After the hectic start to the year that the consultations brought it almost feels like a bit of a lull, in part while we wait to see what the outcomes of the consultations are. It may not be until February next year that we get the next set of consultations and can get a much clearer idea of the way forward. But, I am sure there will be engagement with Governments between now and then to try and help shape that way forward.
We felt we provided you with timely and relevant information throughout the consultation process, but then we would, wouldn’t we! We will shortly be undertaking a survey to see how you our members found the support we gave as we want to ensure our consultation processes and policy can work better still. And more importantly we want what we provide to work effectively for members. So please take the time to respond to it when it comes out, to quote the film, “help me, help you”.We recently held the LARAC Wales Conference, at the Hotel Metropole in Llandrindod Wells - free to our members; it is probably the only meeting I go to all year where I have been the one to travel the shortest distance. Whilst the policy at the national level may be different there is still the same themes and problems around participation, contamination and product design – amongst other things. And is the case across the UK, there are local authorities and local authority officers working hard to overcome these issues with innovative ideas and well thought-out and provided services. Its great to hear about what is going on, the challenges that you all face and how you are trying to overcome them. It helps us work on your behalf and it shows others just how professional the local government sector is.