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Waste Commission established by Newcastle City Council – introduction and response from Newcastle Greens

Newcastle City Council's Waste Commission

This page includes background on the establishment of the Waste Commission and our initial attempts to engage with it.  See our main Waste Strategy page for current information about the Commission and Newcastle Green Party's submission to it.

Nick Kemp, Council cabinet member, has established a Waste Commission of industry leaders to make recommendations to the Council by the end of 2017.  The Commission's first meeting was on Friday 17th March, and included a bus tour to visit the Byker Reclamation Plant and some of Heaton's back lanes.  Details of when and where this meeting was held, or how citizens could observe it (or even contribute to it), were not advertised.

Future meetings are due to be held in Newcastle in May and September (both on Fridays), and in London in April and July (in order to "get the views of key decision makers and business nationally").  See first news release for what we know so far, and details of the Waste Commission members.  Made in Tyne and Wear's news report on the first meeting is below.


Newcastle Green Party's initial attempts to engage

Our first response to the Commission was sent to the Cabinet member involved (Nick Kemp) and the Chair of the Commission (Heidi Mottram, Northumbrian Water).  We welcomed the establishment of the Commission and expressed an eagerness to engage with the Commission by making representations to it.  We made two specific requests for publication:

  1. the terms of reference of the scope of the Commission; and
  2. the process by which businesses, groups and individuals may address the Panel.

We also sounded notes of caution.

  • We emphasised the hierarchy of 'Reduce, Re-use, Recycle', and specifically the higher imperatives of reduction and re-use before anything gets into the waste cycle.  Without success in these two areas, no amount of expert advice can succeed in tackling the problems (literally) on the ground.
  • We recalled the working practices of the 2001-2003 BAN Waste Select Committee, which was led by citizens and whose evidence gathering set high standards of openness and transparency, and the need for the 2017 Waste Commission to learn lessons from BAN Waste.

Sadly, the Council's reply to our response was wholly negative, objecting to our constructive criticism of the way that the Waste Commission has been established so far, and failing to answer our two requests for publication.  We are sorry that the Council has responded in this petty political way to our first approach, but we will continue to emphasise the primacy of waste Reduction and Re-Use, and to promote the valuable lessons from the BAN Waste Select Committee.  This was the country's first ever Parliamentary-style Select Committee enquiry to be led by local citizens, informed by evidence, and to set standards in publication of evidence which remained unbeaten until the Hutton Inquiry of 2003.