Saturday, June 17, 2006

Council mtg, get cycling, hanging baskets, freecycle Lewisham

Went to my first proper meeting of full council on Wednesday. Main item on the agenda was the motion proposed by Darren urging the mayor to reconsider alternative sites for the new school and to accept the minority report written about the whole school/pool fiasco. Quite a lengthy debate with lots of heckling of the mayor and Labour members from the public gallery ;). The motion was passed, with all opposition members supporting it and every Labour member opposing it (predictably). Unfortunately, the mayor isn't obliged to do as the motion says, but hopefully he will at least consider it. It was the first time in donkeys years that Labour lost a vote in Lewisham Council. so quite a momentous occasion.

I also got a motion through calling on the council to redouble its recycling efforts. Not particularly controversial, though Labour did put an amendment asking me to remove the sentence about Lewisham having one of the poorest recycling rates in the country. It does have one of the lowest recycling rates in the country, but I was willing to accept the rewording to get a unanimous vote on the motion.

I also asked questions to the mayor and cabinet about Gordonbrock School, car pools and business recycling. Can post further details if you are interested.

We had our first street surgery on Saturday, on Adelaide Avenue and Brockley Rd. Have also been busy delivering our newsletters - keen to get our surgery and contact details out to everyone asap.

Went to the council-organised 'Get cycling' event at Wearside depot on Saturday - very well-attended and successful event, I thought. This week is bike week.

Also did an hour leafletting in Bromley on Saturday, helping out Green candidate Ann Garrett in her parliamentary by-election campaign.

The long-awaited hanging baskets were put up in Ladywell Rd on Friday - they look good, I hope we can have some on Brockley Rd and Loampit Vale next year too, but they don't come cheap. I think it would be nice to do some kind of community planting days next year, like FUSS do in Staplehurst Road. Maybe we could really go for it and enter Lewisham in Bloom? let me know what you think. Really pleased with the effort they have gone to at the car wash on Ladywell Rd to make it look nice. Spoke to Tony who runs it the other day and he also has plans to open a small sandwich bar in the shop for people waiting to have their cars washed. They've also applied to extend their licensing hours and to open 10-4pm on Sundays - doesn't seem controversial to me - but let me know if you disagree.

Glad to see some of the hoardings come down on Ladywell Rd, though loads of rubbish behind them to clear away.

Freecycle have now got a Lewisham group, as well as the London-wide list. The London-wide one has over 28,000 members and the number of e-mails per day is vast, so I'm glad there is now a separate Lewisham list. The idea behind freecycle is to give away things you no longer need to someone else who wants it, thus reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill (or incinerator!). I've used it to get rid of a couple of bookshelves I no longer needed, and would recommend it. It also makes you feel all warm and virtuous!E-mail:
Lewisham Freecycle Group to join.


Andrew Brown said...

Just a small point, but it's not the council that has a poor record on recycling; rather it's us, the public in Lewisham, who don't seem to have caught the bug.

The council's services are comparible with other authorities we just don't choose to use them for reasons I've yet to understand.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew. Don't really agree with you there. Lewisham was much slower than other boroughs to introduce a full doorstep recycling service and there are still many properties without green bins. Yes, this may be because they haven't requested one and need a bit more prompting, but if that's the case, then we need to continue promoting recycling and educating people about how to recycle. People in Lewisham aren't intrinsically less willing to recycle that those in other boroughs, they just need it made easy for them, ie a green bin delivered to every property, together with clear instructions on what can/can't be recycled. People get frustrated at phoning up for a bin and it not arriving, and give up. I would also argue that Lewisham Council would have been more active in boosting recycling rates if it hadn't had SELCHP to fall back on and avoid landfill tax ;)

Andrew Brown said...

Hello Sue, granted the council took longer than others to develop a doorstep service and that may explain part of the reason why capture rates are lower than in other places. But I don't think that really are as many properties as you think without access to doorstep services, and I certainly don't think thats the reason for the differences.

And, while I know you're keen for the council to increase the amount of waste it sends to landfill (by not using SELCHP) I'm not sure that's the most environmentally friendly answer to our residual waste!;)

In fact I'm not all that sure that some of the recycling we do is (currently) all that environmentally friendly, given where the markets are for the materials and how much energy needs to be used to get them there.

Anonymous said...

Now now Andrew, I think you know full well that I'm no more into increased use of landfill than you are!

Of course we need to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, both for financial reasons(increased landfill tax) and environmental reasons, but I don't believe incineration is a sustainable alternative. We should be much more ambitious, push for a massive increase in recycling and waste reduction and work towards a zero waste strategy. As long as we have incinerators that need feeding, the incentive to do that is not there.

Residual waste, can be dealt with using mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) which uses filters, magnets and electrical currents to remove the maximum amount of recyclable material. The remainder is treated biologically to make it inactive so it can be safely landfilled without leaching into soil or water or causing global warming gas emissions.

As for the market for recycled materials and goods, it is far from perfect at the moment, and I would like to see greater incentives for business to use recycled materials. We need more local/regional schemes like the excellent Local Paper for London . Local councils can play their part through their procurement policies too. On a national level, we need tighter legislation to make industry responsible for the waste it creates in packaging etc.

As for the green box/bin take up rate, I will try to find out from your successor what it is, but I would be surprised if it is much above 80% at the moment, if Ladywell is average for the borough.

Andrew Brown said...

If you say so Sue. Not sure about your understanding of the economics of waste management though.

On council procurement, I'm sure you next motion to council will note the excellent job Lewisham does as an institution in purchasing recycled materials.

On a more positive note I do think the idea of trying to emulate FUSS is an excellent idea, but it'll take a lot of organising.

Max said...

All the good work done to reach this virtuous recycling record went down the drain when last year this ( happened.

Anonymous said...

Andrew - London Remade did have an impressive list of recycled products Lewisham had procured, but I'm still slightly sketchy about just how right-on our procurement policy is. For example is all photocopier paper used recycled, and what about all those plastic cups used in the civic suite? Is there another document on procurement policy other than this one, because I read through it and searched for key words such as recycled, sustainable and fairtrade and couldn't find a mention of any of them, which suggests the achievements are more down to the efforts of council officers than any council policy. Or am I missing smthg?!

Andrew Brown said...

Sue, Dave Whiting was the green procurement champion, and very dedicated he was too. I was a happy spear carrier, but as I recall there were substantial policy decisions taken as well as the dedication of particular officers which put the council in the happy position of being the winner of the award.

As for whether plastic cups in the civic suite should be a green priority in an organisation which employs nearly 10,000 people and spends £380 million, well that's a matter for you. I suspect there are other areas which use more energy and are a bigger (unnecessary) drain on the environment.

As for Max, he needs to get some glasses, he's become so myopic.

Anonymous said...

I will have another look and see if there is any written policy about green procurement, as I couldn't find it on the web. Plastic cups may well not be top priority in the big scheme of things, but there is a case for leading by example, practise what you preach (waste reduction etc!) they could and should be recycled/recyclable or better still replaced with mugs (tea tastes rank in plastic cups)! I don't think there's anything wrong with going for smaller changes alongside borough-wide initiatives - from little acorns come mighty oaks and all that!

Max said...

Sorry Andrew, but that fabulous amount of quality paper wasted in one stroke just popped into my mind when I read your post.
I think that those were 45,000 brochures, I looked at the file and it has 6 pages, that's an A3 forlded in 2 plus an A4 insert.
My biggest order was for 30,000 A4 (all delivered, no wastage there) and that came as 20 boxes.
As that order for the pulped Forest Hill's consultation was for the equivalent of 135,000 A4s, that would make 90 boxes full of quality paper wasted.
Even those effected by myopism can see that.