19/06/2011 The Politics Show South West


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Hello and welcome to the Politics Show in the South West. The row


over making weekly rubbish collections compulsory created a


bit of a stink in Westminster this week. Local Government Secretary


Eric Pickles had previously championed the cause. But when the


Government published its Waste Review on Tuesday, the idea had


been chucked into the dustcart. The Waste Review talks about advising


local authorities to carry out more frequent collections but Ministers


accept they can't force them to do so. At the same time the Government


wants to encourage businesses as well as households to recycle more.


John Danks reports. For any government trying to become


the greenest, landfill is that dirty word they all try to avoid.


Keeping rubbish out of the ground is foremost in DEFRA's Waste Review.


Getting businesses to buy into this ethos isn't difficult because the


more they throw away the more they pay in landfill tax. Darts Farm in


Topsham has made great strides in reducing the waste it throws out.


They separate plastics and cardboard for recycling. With the


cost of waste collection constantly rising, they've found it pays to


recycle. The cardboard is bulky stuff and we spend a lot of money


every month paying to get our general waste taken off side. The


more we can get recycled, we get an income from that cardboard so we


are turning what would be a cost into where revenue. The price of


recyclable materials fluctuates but a lorry load of cardboard can fetch


around �1,500. No surprise maybe then that a DEFRA survey of


commercial waste last year revealed a recycling rate of 52%. But for


some small businesses access to waste and recycling services is a


problem. For a start not all local authorities collect trade waste. Of


the various disposal authorities throughout Devon and Cornwall just


over 60% offer commercial waste and recycling services. It was


announced in the Waste Review that the Landfill Allowance Trading


Scheme would be abolished. This set a limit on how much authorities


could send to landfill. It takes away one of the incentives for


local-authority is not to deal with trade waste collection and


recycling because that tended to count against our allocations.


Because we might have had to buy permits to cover that, it should


make it much cheaper and efficient for small and medium-sized


businesses to do far more recycling of the materials that they haven't


their waste bins. -- that they have in their waste bins. The review


also proposed that Household Waste Recycling Centres might be adapted


to accept business waste. An idea which Plymouth City Council and


Cornwall Council will consider if cost effective. Devon County


Council has it's doubts. difficulty is that we have sized


than for the household waste streams and if you start taking in


large chunks of extra waste, you end up with queues and delays


because the units are generally pretty small. They are constrained


by the size of the site. Councils will said about providing the right


service that ratepayers once and the best service. This is a local


issue and must be decided at a local level. What we want in our


waste review is to make it easier for people to reduce waste, recycle,


see their waste go to other uses and so on. We want to get it all


out of landfill. But the review has been slammed by critics for lacking


ambition and detail. Labour's shadow environment secretary said


the government's policies on rubbish were in chaos. Meanwhile


the government claim they're still on track for achieving a zero waste


economy. But to reach that goal it seems local authorities have been


left to do much of the dirty work. I'm joined by a waste expert from


the University of Plymouth. He has also stirred as a Green Party


candidate. We have a government that wants to be the greenest ever


and zero waste. In your view, is this report doing anything to


advance those goals? It is full of good intentions. It is a fairly


smooth continuation of a long process that has been going on for


several decades but it very much prefers to consider incentives and


it is moving away from targets, particularly forcing people to do


things. That is at the heart of this Government's philosophy all


round. It is an idea that is being tested in all kinds of areas. Some


people would suggest there is a conflict between on the one hand


encouragingly weekly rubbish collections and encouraging more


recycling. Is that your view? a matter of emphasis. I can see for


political reasons why they wanted to make an effort to go back to


weekly collection but the real emphasis, they know, is the better


management of our resources as a country. Just simply stopping


throwing things away in a hole in the ground. They have kept with


that commitment. They are attempting to rationalise and


improve recycling. They then are trying to ensure the best energy


recovery. Do you think they largely incentive based policy can work on


its own? Do we need more of the stick that the Labour government


introduced? I think that some of the freeing up of opportunities is


a good thing. It is difficult to say with the land full allowance


trading scheme, which is being scrapped, that set targets for the


total amount of waste being generated by councils. They are


arguing that in fact the landfill tax, which is now moving up to that


�80 per tonne target, is sufficient in itself. Maybe that is the case


but I have been pleased to see that they are already encouraging


anaerobic digestion and they have made some intelligent pointers to


the way things that things could go for it, albeit they are not taking


a front seat in forcing it to happen. Arabic the suggestion of


course deals with food waste, which is a big component of domestic


waste. -- and a row brick by gesture. The government is also


looking at excluding VAT from landfill. How do you see that


working at? In Plymouth for instance, they are committed to an


incinerator and it is the cheapest, dirtiest way of dealing with it but


it does deal with it. It avoids expensive separate food waste


collection which I would like to see. I think that the big plus that


you can get from separate food waste collection is you can put it


through digestion and can recover gas. And what this report for the


first time says, is we could be supplying up to one-fifth of


domestic gas from the digestion of this kind of waste. That is


incredibly important when we are seeing the rising price of gas from


natural... From the road non- renewable resources, to move


towards a situation where we are supplying our gas these from away


waste food, that is good stuff. we are now going to have an


incinerator in Plymouth. I think that is right and it is a problem


certainly. But at least it avoids it going to landfill. At the moment,


we've got a huge amount of her mother's waist, which cannot be


recycled, and after all they are below 40 % in their current


recycling, so that means that more than 60 % of the waste from


Plymouth is trundling in trucks, 15 or 20 miles down the road every day.


We are going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much. A South


West MP wants the Government to help a taxi driver from Cornwall


who's been in an African prison for the last three years. Whilst living


in Gambia, where he was building a retirement home, Stephen Scarlett


drove three men over the border into Senegal. When they arrived all


four were convicted of visa fraud and Mr Scarlett's been in prison


there ever since. Tamsin Melville has been talking to his wife who


lives near Redruth. Jackie Scarlett's hopes have been


raised and dashed many times during her fight to get husband Stephen


released from a Senegal jail. His sentence ended in February but he's


still behind bars. The latest court hearing was earlier this week.


During our interview at her home near Redruth, Jackie took a call


from the Foreign Office with some news. Yeah, yeah. All right, I will


talk to you again soon. Goodbye. It has been rejected again. I'm sorry.


For the family, various holidays to the Gambia had been very happy


which is why Stephen decided to build a retirement home there. Now


the dream has turned into a nightmare. I have had no help at


all apart from I just keep ringing places and hope to be heard. There


have been doing it for three years, tried to get somewhere. The three


men also jailed have already been released but one is said to be


claiming he was a victim and is paying the Senegalese authorities


to keep Stephen imprisoned. He's asking for compensation, which


Jackie simply cannot afford. She hasn't spoken to her husband for


two years and has received only three letters, the last of which


It is just not Steve. He is very cold, I'm alright, I'm fine. Don't


worry about me, look after yourself. That is all he says. What his state


of mind is, I don't know. I have no idea what kind of man is going to


come back home. It will certainly not Biedermann but went. Jackie's


MP took her fight to the Commons this week, calling for financial


assistance in cases like this, prompting this Government response.


I understand the distress felt by Mr Scarlett and his family, and the


length of time his cases taken to resolve. He has been assisted by


the British Embassy and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a whole.


The responsibility of assuring Mr Scarlett receives his best possible


outcome rests with his lawyer. The Foreign Office supports and part


funds three groups, Prisoners abroad, reprieve and fair trials


International, all of which assist British citizens. We are aware that


Fair trials International have offered their services to Mr


scarlets family. But Jackie says they couldn't even find an English


speaking lawyer from a list they were given and Fair Trials


International haven't been able to help. There's a reason for this


says their man at the top. government has offices, staff,


consulates all over the world. A charity like Fair trials


International has received only �15,000 from the government in the


last year. It is nowhere near enough money to provide the kind of


support that is needed. And he says they're reliant on Foreign office


assistance. It is difficult to understand why he is continuing to


be held and what the Basic Law is in Senegal on this point. We've


asked the British government to gather that information so we can


provide some answers to Mr Scarlett and his family in Cornwall and to


consider whether we can challenge his treatment at the UN or other


international fora, but that have has not been forthcoming from the


British government. And the Government's answers aren't enough


for others either, with calls for legal aid rights at home to cross


borders in cases like Stephen's.? In extreme cases, we should offer


financial assistance because there is a big difference between fact


and somebody who is going on holiday, gets in a brawl and ends


up in trouble with the local police. There are distinctions between


those kinds of cases. There are only two British citizens in prison


in Senegal and in these countries they have a very different legal


system two hours. I don't think it would break the bank because the


numbers in these situations is small. Back in Cornwall it's a


struggle to keep the hope alive. feel dead inside because I just


don't know what door and going to knock on next. I just don't know


what I'm going to do. Jackie Scarlett ending that report


from Tamsin Melville. We did request an interview with the


Foreign Office Minister and Taunton Deane MP, Jeremy Browne, but he


declined. The MP for South East Cornwall has


once again called on the Government to abandon its plans to close


coastguard stations. Sheryll Murray's husband died in a fishing


accident earlier this year, and she made an emotional plea in the


Commons this week. No one knows more than me how dangerous the sea


is and how important it is to co- ordinate all rescue services


locally, when an incident occurs at sea. If these -- in these proposals,


I'm reminded of 1994, when two fishermen lost their lives of the


Cornish coast. It was below a recently closed... In reply, the


Shipping Minister Mike Penning insisted change is essential.


Parties can play politics with this but we will come out of this with


an emergency service which has the resilience nationally that it


deserves and the pay and training infrastructure that the service


needs as well. I hope that everybody understands that. The


government is doing this for the right reasons, not just about cuts,


it is because... What we need is a 24/7 -- a 21st century service.


Transport Select Committee will deliver a report on the proposals


this Thursday. When the Government came to power


last year it promised to cut red tape for business. Here in the


South West there are few bigger businesses than tourism. But people


working in the self catering sector fear they're now facing more


expensive and complicated regulation. John Ayres reports.


Flick through a holiday cottage brochure and what are you looking


for? Nice accommodation, good location that's quite and peaceful,


maybe near to a town or a beach, maybe you want to take a dog? But


energy efficiency? Here's the thing. Apparently the Government hasn't


been correctly applying its own laws on holiday lets, to brings it


in line with Europe and now they're putting it right. From the end of


this month, a Energy Performance Certificate which is one of those


things you have to get when you sell your house, will have to be


produced, and its details made available to propective customers.


Ian Sturt carrys out energy assements. The information he


collects will be made availaible to anyone wanting to take a holiday in


this property. They are aware of how energy efficient the building


is and then they can make a statement in terms of choosing to


rent properties that are more environmentally friendly. It is


freedom of choice and giving them the information to make that.


Possibly more significant is the fact the energy performances have


occurred produce for the owner of the property is going to indicate


to them how they can improve the efficiency and reduce the energy


waste. The EPC certificate costs between �50 and �80. So what's the


problem? Well Moray Bowater runs a agency marketing properties like


this and he's concerned about putting all this information in


their literature. It may well increase the size of the brochure,


maybe 10 or more pages. That will cost be up to �50,000 to increase


the pressure by that amount. The mailing cost of the extra paper


could cost us may be �70 -- �70,000 to �80,000 a year. We estimated


will cost us in the region of �100,000 a year to add these


details to our brochure and to the details that we send out to


prospective ranters. Now the Government promised it would cut


red tape for business. This week, the Conservative MP Andrew


Stephenson, who represents Pendle in Lancashire raised the issue in


the commons, and was supported by Anne Marie Morris from Newton Abbot.


This is a classic case of the UK gold plating EU rate elation,


something which ministers have promised to stop. For the avoidance


of any confusion, I understand that the details state that all


buildings are subjected to these regulations unless specifically


excluded. As holiday lets have been -- not been excluded, it must apply


to them. Effectively, this is going to become a tax on tourism and it


will be harder to enforce because a lot of these lettings are not done


through agencies. That, combined with the Finance Bill changes which


changes the categorisation for relief, is going to give holiday


lettings, small businesses a real problem. An important part of what


my department attempts to do is to bust barriers and barrier busting


is one of the things on which we you wax very eloquently. But it has


to be the case that United Kingdom government must comply with EU


legislation correctly interpreted, and it also has to be the case that


it is extremely important to reduce the carbon output of the United


Kingdom. But while the MInister talks about barrier busting, the


industry is still to be convinved. It is a first test of whether this


government is serious about supporting business and driving out


red tape. It is the symbolism of a government helping business because


if they look at this, they will realise it is not needed. Under the


Government's own statements it should not happen. There's another


issue here too. The EPC legislation is designed for tenancies but will


now be applied to holiday lets. The industry fears this could be the


thin end of the wedge. There are different rules, regulations and


laws associated with shorthold or longer tenancies and those rules do


not apply to holiday lets. Of course, holiday lets could not go


ahead if the tenancy rules applied. Applying for work tenancy to


holiday next undermines the whole basis of a holiday letting industry.


The deadline to comply with the new application of the law is the 30th


June, and applies to any property rented out for more than 20 weeks a


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