Labour’s Headingley councillors have always been on the ball when it comes to green issues.
It was Headingley Labour councillors who piloted the opt-in scheme for green re-cycling – a scheme tailor-made for Headingley’s population – with its high turn-over of non-permanent residents.
Headingley Labour councillors have worked hard to protect the green spaces which remain in the area– like Sparrow Park, and the pocket of ancient woodland which survives at Batty Wood on Woodhouse Ridge; green spaces which are doubly precious in an inner city area like Headingley.
So it’s no surprise that Headingley’s newest Labour councillor, Al Garthwaite, is proposing innovative ideas for recycling, which call on the special talents of Headingley’s own students.
As she explained in her speech to full council last week a key to success in matters like recycling is to liaise closely with residents, social enterprises, businesses and organisations to make the most of existing services.
She’s been doing just that.
“Recently I’ve been working with graphic design students and their tutor from Leeds Beckett University. They’re creating ideas for a campaign to promote recycling to students, many of whom do not currently recycle. The ideas are imaginative, eye-catching and exciting, and supported by senior officers. Importantly, this campaign should cost Leeds City Council very little, as the university can tap into financial and in-kind support, and we plan to work with local residents’ groups to implement some of the plans.”
As Al pointed out, the Labour council has made great strides in recycling and energy efficiency.
“Over the last few years, recycling in Leeds has made huge leaps forward. 10 years ago, rates were around 22%, but by 2015 they were up to 43%. This saw Leeds become the highest recycling Core City. We’ve slipped back a bit recently, but aim for 50% by 2020. The Recycling and Energy Re-use Facility (the RERF) will ultimately deliver 10% recycling, and is now giving us real environment benefits including zero waste to landfill, and electricity generation.
Pilots of opt-in recycling have been introduced to 10,000 properties in Headingley and Harehills, improving the quality of recycling and the local environment, and again, saving money on the misuse of green bins.
There’s a popular re-use shop at East Leeds Household Waste Site, and another at Kirkstall will re-open in March.
We’re currently piloting incentive schemes in Morley and in tower blocks in inner city areas, to increase recycling even more.”
The current climate in local government finance is, as we’ve often pointed out, harsh winter.
In these circumstances Leeds Council must make every penny count – and more than count.
Proposals to extend brown bin collection throughout the winter are one casualty of this. Financing them would take a much-needed £1.6million from the refuse collection budget.
The council wants to introduce more kerbside recycling – but – as Al pointed out – this can only be done where we can afford it, and where it is appropriate.
But Labour in Leeds remains strongly committed to the green agenda.
And with councillors like Al Garthwaite bringing new and exciting ideas to the table, we’ll continue to deliver – in the teeth of Government cuts.