Headlines: June 9th, 2008

The chief executives of all local authorities are being asked to express an interest in their councils forming partnerships to deliver more cost-effective waste services. The Environment Minister, Joan Ruddock, has written to them inviting them to submit proposals on a no-commitment basis at this stage.

The power to create Joint Waste Authorities was introduced last year in response to requests from councils. Now Ms Ruddock is hoping formal developed proposals for partnerships can be submitted from this Autumn. She said waste was an issue that affected everyone, but local circumstances varied widely.

“We want to give local authorities flexibility and choice over the solutions available to them, so they can manage waste in the way that serves their communities best. Local authorities have asked for JWAs, and they offer another voluntary option for strong partnership working with the potential to deliver joined-up, more cost-effective and efficient waste services,” she explained.

It is up to each local authority to decide whether to put forward plans for a Joint Waste Authority and whether this would deal with waste collection, disposal or street cleaning or a combination of these. The deadline for the first formal applications is expected to be in Spring next year.

Ms Ruddock said the way waste was managed was quite rightly high on the list of concerns for many communities and she went on, “Authorities will need to consult locally on any proposals for a JWA. Where they are the right local solution I hope to see communities benefit from the efficiencies this kind of joint working can bring.”

A consultation on the process for applying to the Secretary of State to become a JWA closes today. Any JWA would be set up on a voluntary basis and it would need unanimous support from the local authorities concerned. The JWAs will be made up of elected members from the councils involved so they are fully accountable to the communities they serve.