The Daily Mail and Eric Pickles share an obsession about dustbins. I noticed colleagues in Hull reckon-like I do- than Pickles little outburst this morning will have little impact on local authorities.
Eric Pickles is the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Unfortunately no-one seems to have told him he is no longer in opposition.
Earlier today his Department issued a press statement in which the Minister, in typical populist fashion, accuses the well-respected Audit Commission of “forcing” local councils to move from weekly to alternate weekly bin collections. His full statement is here.
My Birkdale Ward colleague Simon Shaw has serious concerns about Eric Pickles’ attack on the independence of the Audit Commission. Simon is a Chartered Accountant, who has worked as an auditor, as well as being former Chair of Sefton Council’s Audit Committee.
This is what Simon has to say: “Mr Pickles says he has written to the Audit Commission today instructing them to withdraw their guidance contained in a document called ‘Waste Management Quick Guide’.”
“It is a very dangerous slippery slope where a politician, of whatever party, issues a directive to the supposedly independent Audit Commission telling them what to think.”
Simon has managed to obtain a copy of the “offending” Audit Commission document, and you can read it in full on our website.
“I contacted the Audit Commission earlier today and they confirm that the ‘Quick Guide’ has never been issued to local councils, but was merely an internal document to assist inspectors.”
“Most reasonable people would say it is thoroughly balanced. Indeed in one key section it says this: ‘Alternate week collections will not suit all councils or all areas. They do not always offer the best solution.’ (Page 18, Paragraph 7)”
“The new Minister needs to reconsider. We had enough of the last Labour Government “instructing” everybody what to do and think without Eric Pickles joining in.”