Thursday, March 27, 2008

Talking Rubbish

The final meeting of the Environment Select Committee was yesterday afternoon, with the agreement of the final report on Waste management and Recycling as the main item on the agenda. We'd agreed to start with a presentation of a summary of the rationale for the review and the evidence we'd received for all interested councillors before we went on to finalise our recommendations. Unfortunately an error in sending out the invitation meant it was timed for half an hour after the meeting was due to start so there was a very quick re-arrangement of the agenda to cover some items before other councillors arrived. We had almost an hour of presentation and questions, all good and valuable. It showed that we were right in our judgement of the importance of the issue to ward councillors and to their electors. As a result of that discussion and further discussion in the committee we slightly amended one of the draft recommendations to allay some of the worries being expressed.
Although it meant that I spent over 3 hours on the meeting and finalising the report afterwards I believe it was time well worth spending. The scrutiny committee took a lot of evidence which enabled us to make a very well informed set of recommendations to move the service up the several notches needed to achieve the demanding targets being set by government for 2010 and beyond. We listened to the public and realised that many people are willing to accept change if it's explained properly and doesn't cause them too many problems. Now we look forward to convincing Cabinet next month that this is the way forward and then seeing the changes gradually introduced.
When looking at the results of the public consultation we realised that the response rate from some areas was significantly higher than the average. I knew that Eaglescliffe residents had been encouraged to respond by us as ward councillors, and that might have accounted for some of our higher than average turnout. I discovered yesterday that in one of the other wards the same thing had happened, though neither of the ward councillors was on the committee and the ward is as different as possible from ours. I'm very grateful to those councillors for promoting the consultation as vigorously as they did in their ward, and to others who did the same but haven't mentioned it to me. I'm very pleased that so many people responded and gave such full answers.

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