Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No answers from Hutt City Council to questions in Press Statement...

Lower Hutt City (in yellow) within Wellington ...Image via WikipediaCopy of Press release sent to Hutt City Council on March 30 2010
Council siphoning off Waste Minimisation Money

Lisa Bridson
March 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm
Tags: Lower Hutt, New Zealand, Politics, Rates, Recycling, Waste
Categories: Governance, Waste

“Something dodgy seems to be happening with the waste minimisation fund money” claims Lisa Bridson, candidate for Eastern Ward. “Creative accounting is being used so the council can siphon off money that should be going into reducing waste”.

The intent of the Waste Minimisation Act (2008) was that money collected from a levy would be spent reducing waste ending up at landfill. Half is supposed to be used locally; the other half goes into a contestable fund that all councils can use to undertake big projects.

Hutt City can spend their share either funding existing programs or implementing new waste reduction programs. In November 2009 council officers identified $430,000 for new initiatives but after a Councillor-requested review, extra supposed waste initiatives were identified leaving only $9,850 available to be spent on new initiatives.

Disposing of waste is very lucrative for the council. Waste collection earns council around $10 million dollars profit each year. Waste is basically subsidising other council activities, and reducing waste would threaten that income. "Instead of investing in reducing waste, council are wasting money paying lawyers and consultants to justify why we shouldn't do any more", says Ms Bridson.

Julie Englebretson, Trustee of Earthlink and candidate for Northern Ward agrees, “Council use the Landfill as a cash cow. There are many ways council could encourage reducing waste”. Miss Englebretson supports regular kerbside inorganic collections and wheelie bins for recyclables being supplied by Council. Ms Bridson also supports assisting construction and demolition firms reduce waste which would benefit the firms and the community.

Ms Bridson has been seeking answers as to how the waste minimisation money has been spent, but has been blocked. Consultants Tonkin and Taylor produced a revised estimate of $359,300 in February 2010 saying costs included “kiosk operations in regard to record keeping and provision of advice, assistance to customers at the recycling area, operations in the recycling area such as traffic control, school visits and assistance to projects such as earth link.” A report with a full break down was to be produced, but despite repeated requests since the report has still not materialised.

“It is my belief that figures have been deliberately inflated so council don’t have to use the money on reducing waste. If council is really spending that much on reducing waste going to landfill, where is the proof, and why is waste still increasing?” Waste going to landfill has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years, as have costs to residents.

“While more progressive councils are implementing a range of activities to reduce waste and reduce landfill costs, the current regime seems intent on milking waste for all it is worth” says Ms Bridson.

Hutt City’s 2004 Waste Minimisation Plan needs to be reviewed by 2012 to comply with the Act. This will be an opportunity to identify opportunities to reduce waste and ensure the current landfill serves the community well into the future.

Press release submitted 3 Sept 2010, as yet unpublished 15 Sept 2010.

For more information

I'm sure residents of Lower Hutt would like answers to these questions as well. Its not too late yet before the elections. Perhaps it really is time for a change? From top to bottom!


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