Michael Gove has appointed a food waste tsar to end the ‘moral scandal’ of Britain’s throwaway culture. The Environment Secretary has appointed businessman Ben Elliot with responsibility for tackling discarded produce. This picture making reference to Burscough firms is shown in the report.
Unpaid, Mr Elliot will attempt to slash the 10.2million tons of food needlessly thrown away by households and businesses each year. The announcement is particularly timely, coming just after Christmas, when many families find themselves throwing out food having bought too much for the festive period.
Around 43,000 tons of surplus food from retailers and manufacturers is already redistributed every year, according to Whitehall figures. However, the equivalent of 250million meals a year is still estimated to go uneaten. Food waste is likely to be particularly high over the festive period. Figures from the charity Wrap suggest Britons binned as many as 3.5million mince pies and 7.1million pigs in blankets last year.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that 10.2million tons of food is wasted every year. Of this, 1.8million tons comes from food manufacturers, another million from the hospitality sector, and 260,000 from retailers.
The remainder, more than 7million tons, comes from households. The appointment of a ‘food surplus and waste champion’ is part of the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy. Ministers aim to end the practice of sending food waste to landfill by 2030.
“It is shocking that some ministers are putting civil servants like me on the hook for political ends. Every day there is some fresh claim in the press, backed up by people who should (and perhaps really do) know better, that we must accept whatever outrageous terms we are offered by an intransigent EU because we are not prepared for no deal and it would be a disaster. This line is pushed by Remainer Cabinet ministers trying to scare us into swallowing the Withdrawal Agreement, and their friends campaigning for a second referendum, the Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd’s brother Roland prominent among them.
“This is Project Fear Mark (I think) III, which claims that we will all “crash out” over the white cliffs of Dover into the Channel at 11pm on March 29 2019 and wake up to certain chaos and doom. If true, it would be a terrible indictment not only of this Government but also of our Civil Service. And it is absolutely untrue, as anyone who, like me, has been involved in Brexit work for the past two-and-a-half years in Whitehall will tell you.
“It is rather shocking that not only the Remainer media but even members of the Government are putting civil servants on the hook for their own political purposes, by implying that they have failed in their clear duty to prepare for eventualities. It may be true that certain civil servants are biased in favour of the EU. That is because continued EU membership means certainty, and civil servants love certainty. It makes planning one’s family commitments, work-life balance and daily commute a lot easier. Strong and stable. Dull and secure. Plodding and punctilious. The opposite of challenging, new and rewarding.
“But that very bias towards certainty and balance and horror of disorder makes civil servants highly conscious of their duty to keep both their school run and the country operating smoothly. They would not sit back and allow the British public to be threatened by economic paralysis. Nor have they. The frisson of horror evoked by such a prospect would shake the corridors of power from Westminster to Brussels. A disorderly no-deal Brexit on March 29 is not compatible with the principles of good government in which the Civil Service takes justified pride. It handles seismic change in much the same way as it handles a decision on the design of a new online form or whether to allow pot plants in the staff kitchen – in a very deliberate, considered, consultative manner.
“Without a Project Fear, Remainers would need to think up convincing arguments for staying in the EU. Of course no-deal preparations have been made. Very detailed plans have been proposed, assessed, analysed to death and finally agreed by working groups and steering groups and directors’ boards and cross-Whitehall talking shops. They have then been sent to ministers for approval. And they are now being executed. To claim otherwise is to equate the United Kingdom with a tinpot dictatorship where officials tote machine guns and use pot plants for target practice. And we would never allow that.
“It is even more ridiculous that this claim of unpreparedness is still being parroted across the media and by MPs when some of the most crucial elements of no-deal planning have now been made public . In a very surreptitious way, of course, almost as though the Government didn’t want even its own backbenchers to know. While things were hotting up in the Commons over the Withdrawal Agreement before Parliament rose for Christmas, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs made important no-deal customs regulations and wrote to businesses advising them on the new procedures for import and export from March 29, with links to guidance and even to application forms for grants to help with IT upgrades and staff training. Just-in-time importers are also being advised to register now as Trusted Traders, in order to benefit from simplified customs facilitation.
“Job advertisements for customs warehouse officers at an inland clearance site in Milton Keynes have gone live, too. This is so that lorries can be diverted away from the Channel ports for targeted checks. The European Union and various member states have also announced bilateral arrangements for euro clearing and financial services, for visa-free tourist travel, and for aviation rights.
“The French have installed high-tech freight scanners at Calais to keep trade and tourism flowing. Open Skies agreements have been signed with our most important aviation partners, the US and Canada. Further agreements are planned. And we have just agreed the transition of a trade agreement with Switzerland, which will allow businesses to carry on trading freely after our country leaves the European Union. There are hundreds of such no-deal plans across all government departments just waiting for the green light from ministers to be made public. There are more bilateral “managed WTO” agreements on the horizon and a rapid acceleration of work in the Civil Service to deliver a no-deal Brexit.
“An enormous effort by thousands of hard-working civil servants has been made to ensure that if we leave the EU without a deal, “crashing out” over a “cliff edge” is simply not going to be an option, and it is purely a political decision not to make this clear to the public and nervous backbench MPs. But if the Government was to be frank with Parliament and the country, what justification would be left for its disastrous Withdrawal Agreement? What would Remainers do without a Project Fear? They would need to think up convincing positive arguments for staying in the EU, something that has so far proved beyond them”.
The author is a serving civil servant engaged in preparing the UK for a Brexit on WTO rules after March 29 2019. She therefore writes under a pseudonym.
We know the council employs bean counters. And, for all we know, WLBC might be employing fag-butt counters too. The council website reports that “A driver from Kirkby has been fined £440 after he was spotted dropping a cigarette butt while driving his vehicle. Dropping a cigarette butt is a littering offence and those spotted committing such an offence will be issued with a £75 fixed penalty notice. Failure to pay the penalty is likely to result in court action and a much more expensive bill including a heavy fine.
“Wigan Magistrates Court heard that a male driver of a vehicle was seen by a Council officer dropping a cigarette end out of this vehicle onto Mill Lane, Skelmersdale. This vehicle was traced back to a resident of Kirkby. He was issued with a fixed penalty notice of £75 but this was not paid. The Council then took the matter to the Magistrates Court.
“He did not attend court and was found guilty in his absence. As well as his fine he was also ordered to pay costs of £397.14 and a victim surcharge of £44, a total of £881.14.
“Councillor Kevin Wright, portfolio holder for Health and Community Safety, said “By failing to dispose of his cigarette butt properly this man has landed himself with a bill of nearly £900. The Council is ambitious for West Lancashire to have a good quality, clean environment and this case should act as a warning that we will crack down on people who action litter and will take appropriate action against those found doing it. Cigarette butts account for 40% of all the litter dropped in the UK . They are an environmental hazard as the filters take up to 12 years to biodegrade and are harmful to wildlife. I would urge people to dispose of them carefully”.
Clear enough, Cllr Wright is the right man for butt enforcements! But who among our Council officers actually checks %ages of butts among general litter? The mind boggles! Councils are empowered under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act to write fixed penalty notices, so it must happen.
Meanwhile, large areas of the Beacon Park Golf Course lie under deliberately dumped excessive litter, called landfill. Because it was dumped by Serco Leisure Operating Ltd and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd under what started as legal planning development, no action ever taken and the greed for landfill royalties took over .
But where was the WLBC landfill control officer? Head of Leisure and Cultural Services 21st August 2015 “Council planning officers and officers from the Environment Agency both undertake monitoring functions in relation to the site. The planning officers in relation to the general conditions under the planning approval and the Environment Agency in relation to the permit and licence for Oaklands Leisure Limited for the importation of materials on to the site”.
And “The last visit took place on Wednesday this week 19th August 2015, when both the Environment Agency Officer and the Councils Planning Enforcement Officer attended site. They inspected the log for deliveries and permits in place for operators bringing loads to the site; they also looked around the site at the levels and infill material which is still visible. One of the issues raised by Mr Newman (member of the Golf Members Club) was the height of the mounds of soil, the planning officer was unable to make any judgement on the final levels until the ‘Shapers’ for the golf course have completed the work to bring the mounds of top soil (which had been moved to one side at the start of the works) back over the infill material. The Environment Agency Officer was happy that the documentation and records were all in order. I do not have access to the records for review or the delivery logs for materials brought to site”.
So the blame lies squarely at the door of the WLBC Planning Enforcement Officer? Or perhaps not, as the Solicitor has stated “The Council has taken measures to manage relevant arrangements, including employment of suitable enforcement action, where appropriate, to enable those responsible to bring matters within planning control. The Council does not automatically prosecute where a breach of condition notice has not been complied with; in line with requirements it considers each matter on its merits. Officers will continue to monitor the progress of the regularising planning application and may revert to other action, which may include prosecution, should this be necessary”.
So, drop your fag butt and be spotted, guilty as charged. Dump thousands of cubic meters of excess landfill, may include prosecution if charged. Depends on friends in high places? Probably!
The UK Home Secretary is concerned by 221 migrants having attempted to cross the Channel to England since the start of November. Migrants are paying criminal gangs to arrange the Channel crossings. Every time the gangs succeed in the illegal crossings and the migrants are rescued and landed more will take the risk. But if the rescued migrants are returned to France the failure will be a total loss to those smuggling gangs involved. Our thick Home Office officials now say this is a “major incident”. It won’t be if suddenly no landings are allowed in the UK, because it is France’s responsibility?
Brexit Bluff? As a well known writer claims “Even if some instability does follow a no-treaty withdrawal, it would be short-term. Life would continue. Chickens would continue to lay eggs. Trading restrictions work both ways, so any attempt by Brussels to punish the disobedient Brits by preventing them exporting agricultural goods to the EU might encourage the British government to find sudden reasons to stop the importation of German cars. Or Irish beef. Or French wine. Have you tried new-world Merlots? They can be rather good. And good value too. [He’s right! No more French wine for me! Chilean Luis Felipe Edwards Bin Series Merlot , try it!]
Belgium’s government is in turmoil yet again. France’s peacock president is having his feathers plucked by a bolshy populace. The German chancellor is soon to depart this political life. Italy and Brussels may have papered over their rancorous dispute over Rome’s spending proposals, but neither is likely to play nice for long. Spain has a hideous unemployment problem, and poor Greece, the crucible of western democracy, has lost control of its own affairs and is turning into a third world country.
Poland and Hungary, of course, are pursuing non-liberal policies that have earned them the contempt of the European institutions. And all this before we even start contemplating Commission President Jean Claude Juncker’s hiccups .
Europeans will have to shell out billions more to fund Brussels’ budget if we quit the EU with No Deal, a top Eurocrat has warned. The EU’s German budget chief said Europe would suffer without the £39billion Britain has previously promised to pay after Brexit. Gunther Oettinger’s warning come as a boost to Brexiteers who insist we can get a better deal from Brussels because they’re terrified of No Deal. The Merkel ally, who is European Commissioner for the budget, told the German press No Deal would lead to higher bills for the rest of the continent.
Asked what the impact would be he said “That depends on whether the British would be prepared to honour their rights and obligations until the end of 2019. If that doesn’t happen, then next year a middling-three-figure million amount will be added to Germany”.
That suggests the total extra contributions for the whole of the EU would end up being several billion euros each to make up for the money they wouldn’t get from the UK. If Theresa May’s deal is approved by Parliament next month, Britain will pay a £39billion divorce bill to Brussels. [At £1billion per year for 39 years?]
But if we leave without a deal in March, we may end up paying nothing at all. The PM is currently trying to extract more concessions from the EU in a last-ditch bid to persuade angry MPs they should back the withdrawal agreement.
Oettinger admitted that a second referendum to overturn Brexit is unlikely. He predicted instead that the Commons would end up backing the current deal because MPs are reluctant to accept any other option. He said “It’s not that unlikely that the British Parliament will vote for the divorce deal in January. There’s certainly no majority for a new referendum, or a disorderly Brexit”.
The EU has previously insisted the current deal can’t be substantially changed despite Mrs May’s requests. Brexiteers have predicted Brussels will end up caving in order to avoid the possibility of a No Deal Brexit.
The EU will accept a French budget deficit above the EU’s 3 percent ceiling in 2018 “as a one-time exception” Budget Commissioner Oettinger says. Oettinger told the Funke media group of German newspapers that French President Emmanuel Macron had “lost authority with his budget for 2019” by upping his spending in response to the Yellow Jackets protests, “but he remains a strong supporter of the European Union”. Oettinger added “It’s crucial now that Macron continues his reform agenda, especially in the labour market, and that France remains on its growth track. Under this condition, we will tolerate a national debt higher than 3 percent as a one-time exception. However, it must not continue beyond 2019”.
The European commissioner added that the likelihood of Britain remaining in the EU had somewhat increased over the past few months, but said “Nevertheless, I assume there will be a withdrawal at the end of March”. There will, Herr Oettinger, there will!
Could supporters of a second Brexit referendum could curtail the government’s power to collect taxes unless Theresa May bows to their demand? The proposal appears in a report on ways to force another vote by the Best for Britain campaign group. It comes as Jeremy Corbyn urged the prime minister to cut short MPs’ Christmas break so that parliament can vote on her Brexit deal. Speaking to The Independent, the Labour leader accused Mrs May of trying to “run down the clock”. However Downing Street told the Press Association that it was a “silly demand”. Quite right, that’s no way for Corbyn to speak about a “stupid woman”!
Readers may recall the insults heaped on residents of Aughton by Tory Wally Westley in December some years ago when he told the public at the Aughton Parish Council “The campaign was a disaster, lies were told door to door and the campaign was a waste of time”.
And who can forget his accusation by email of another Tory councillor being “snide”?
But in the WestLancsNews Members Newsletter 2018 he writes of there being “Little Evidence of goodwill or peace within the Parliamentary Conservative Party…it is very disappointing to hear of the intemperate language and lack of respect being paid to our Prime Minister. The damage to our party is huge…”.
Readers might think it seems hypocritical, not to mention inappropriate, for the Association Chairman to mention “intemperate language and lack of respect” given his track record?
Britain’s fracking industry is unlikely to realise its potential unless rules governing earthquakes at drilling sites are loosened, according to the petrochemicals giant with the biggest exploration rights. Ministers have championed the controversial shale gas extraction technique, giving the go-ahead to the first operation in the UK for seven years at a site in Lancashire.
However, business at the Preston New Road site has had to be repeatedly put on hold by fossil fuel exploration company Cuadrilla due to minor earth tremors. Under current rules, any earthquake that exceeds the seismic limit of 0.5 must bring drilling to a halt, but industry figures have suggested this limit is too strict.
Now Tom Crotty , an Ineos director, has said he thinks “It would be difficult to see the industry develop successfully with a 0.5 operating limit”. Ineos is a petrochemicals company led by Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest person, which owns fracking rights for large areas of northern England.
Despite pledging to invest massively in UK fracking, Mr Crotty confirmed the firm was nowhere near extracting fossil fuels using this technique, citing current quake restrictions as a factor. “We are a long way from getting to that point in our development, probably at least two years away, but 0.5 will be a barrier” he said.
Cuadrilla, which remains the only company currently engage in UK fracking, has recorded six tremors that exceed the legal limit since it began operating near Blackpool in October. Earlier this month it was struck by a magnitude 1.5 event – the largest so far. Though the company has reported that it successfully extracted some shale gas at the beginning of November, its chief executive Francis Egan has proposed that raising the quake limit to a magnitude of 2 would allow them to operate successfully and safely.
Mr Crotty agreed there was “absolutely no impact at the sorts of levels that have been recorded” at the Lancashire site. He said while he was not confident the government would heed this advice, the company would continue investing in potential sites as he was confident the UK would one day need shale gas. “Whether we develop these resources now or whether we sit … and develop them at some point in the future, we have a very strong belief that these resources will be required,” he said. “The UK’s level of imports of gas is going up each year and that’s not sustainable”.
The government has previously stated it is not currently intending to relax seismicity rules. Energy Minister Claire Perry has noted they are set at a “cautious” level and indicated they will be reviewed in the future. Environmental campaigners have expressed strong concerns not only about minor earthquakes linked with fracking, but also the implications of investing in more carbon-emitting fossil fuel technologies. While ministers insist that shale gas will be an essential fuel in the transition to greener energy sources, critics say establishing a fracking industry in the UK will lock the country into long-term dependence on fossil fuels.
She’s a writer. As an established journalist she has written for The Economist about world trade, and latterly moved into fiction, writing psychological thrillers to much positive acclaim. Lately she’s been doing what she does best, pontificating for England. She recently co-authored a “Play About Sex And Brexit” entitled “People Like Us” with Jane Robins.
“I’m a free-spending sort, and rarely swerve the chance to shell out. But this year, when the annual begging letter from the BBC turned up, I handed it to my husband and said “You pay if you want to, I’m done” . Having had Brexit almost evade my grasp, I felt compelled to register my disapproval of the Great and the Good (incorporating the Smug and the Snobby and the Liberal and the Lecturing) somehow”. They hunt people down, even those who just use Netflix!
Scratch a Brexiteer, she avers, and nine times out of 10 you’ll draw the blood of someone who’d like to break free of our BBC overlords too. The EU and the Beeb are so similar, the endless entitlement, the fake enlightenment, the crazed spending of other people’s money.
“People need to shut up,” says Burchill flatly, slurping on a gin and tonic. “We’re leaving, and they’ll just have to get used to it.” Conversation moves to the Liberal Democrat party conference. “If I’ve ever seen a man sailing on HMS Ain’t Getting None, it’s Vince Cable” she trills, in that disarming Cadbury’s-Bunny-on-hippy-crack accent. “Remainers are getting a parasexual thrill out of their mortification. People are getting high imagining a dystopia. It’s masochistic. Almost like a science-fiction brainstorm”.
She can’t suppress a snigger on hearing that Cable’s speech accused Brexit “fundamentalists” of leaving the EU in “an erotic spasm”. “I know I had one” she shrieks. “I thought it was just me!”.
“He’s losing the plot” declares Jane Robins who also writes great thrillers including “White Bodies” . “All we did was vote to leave. We haven’t voted for Armageddon, and yet that’s what we’ve been made to feel like, like we’ve done something really immoral”.
“People think of the EU as this great thing” adds Robins “but actually it causes so much harm. I’m a democrat, and as Tony Benn said ‘If you can’t vote the f***ers out, it’s not a democracy’. We must recognise that the European Community has now set itself the objectives of developing a common foreign policy, a form of common nationality expressed through a common passport, a directly elected assembly and an economic and monetary union which, taken together, would in effect make the United Kingdom into one province of a Western European state”.
Now, about selling off the BBC?