Green vote: Labour

JULIAN Swainson, leader of the Labour group on Suffolk Council Council, believes the Conservative administration's claim to support sustainable and environmentally friendly policies is undermined by its general approach to running the authority.

By David Green

JULIAN Swainson, leader of the Labour group on Suffolk Council Council, believes the Conservative administration's claim to support sustainable and environmentally friendly policies is undermined by its general approach to running the authority.

Mr Swainson said he respected environment portfolio Eddy Alcock, who was “always polite, friendly and respectful of other views”.

“He clearly works hard to manage his portfolio, although he does not appear to be an innovator. He is a follower rather than a leader in political terms,” he claimed.


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However, the administration had combined the portfolios of the environment and economic development and this had given great concern to the county's residents that “long-term environmental management is compromised by short-term economic opportunism”.

“This makes it difficult for Eddy Alcock to be perceived as an effective environmental champion, a vital role in local government,” Mr Swainson said.

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Under Labour leadership, Suffolk had been fully engaged with the wider environmental community, particularly on key issues such as coastal and North Sea research, common policy development, and regional and national co-ordination of policy on climate change and energy policies, he claimed.

“These are big, long term problems which have to be addressed, and the Tories have let down Suffolk people by withdrawing from this wider engagement.

“This will lead to Suffolk missing out on funding and sustainable development opportunities. Some Labour members, including Kevan Lim, Sandy Martin, Bryony Rudkin and myself, continue to engage and participate at a wider regional, national and european level, but this is not generally supported by the current administration.”

A clear example of the Conservative administration's “insincerity” on environmental issues, while claiming that it wished to make Suffolk the “Greenest County”, was its complete failure to encourage a shift to more sustainable forms of transport for the huge business mileage of council staff, Mr Swainson said.

Innovations brought in by the former Labour administration, such as video-conferencing - meetings without miles” - appeared to be hardly used now, he claimed.

“In waste management the Conservatives appear to have put all of Suffolk's eggs in one basket by choosing incineration as their preferred long-term solution to waste disposal problems.

“This is a foolish and high-risk strategy, and is based on poor logic and assumptions.

“There is scope for a great increase in other, more sustainable waste management measures including greatly enhanced recycling and re-use, including mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) and use of “not for profit” sector organisations who specialise in recycling while meeting other specific social aspirations.

“A multi-solution approach is harder to set up but ultimately much more sustainable and cost-effective.

“A much more effective partnership between waste collection and disposal authorities in Suffolk is also essential.

“One major problem in pursuing the incinerator-only route is that public trust and acceptance of this technology is at a very low level, which means that actually finding and operating a site could be a very protracted and difficult business, leaving Suffolk County Council exposed to crippling landfill tax bills.

“We also recognise that there are some very challenging and unresolved problems about operating incinerators in an environmentally clean and CO2/fuel efficient manner. Would you agree to an incinerator at the end of your garden? Do you know anyone who would?

“The current Conservative administration seeks to follow policies of commercialising - that means privatising - all services, in a revival of the 1980s discredited Thatcherite approach.

“This will make it particularly difficult to maintain the environment in Suffolk, as contracted cost-led tendered service providers cannot afford to match the environmental standards that public sector organisations operate at.

“In summary the Suffolk environment needs innovative, progressive management based on sound and accurate research and intelligence. Whatever the good intentions of Eddy Alcock, he will not be allowed by his hard-right cabinet colleagues to deliver what Suffolk needs,” Mr Swainson said.

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