David’s Diary April 2011

The election campaign has started, and the number of council meetings will be kept to a minimum. Much of my time will be spent visiting in the ward, dealing with casework and preparing/distributing leaflets.

If any elector wishes me to visit during the campaign please e mail, respond to this post with a comment or ring 01270 820474


Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council is celebrating this afternoon after scooping a national award for its new recycling and waste service.

The borough council has beat off stiff competition from unitary councils and a waste disposal authority to win the “Waste Management Award” at the Government Business Awards.

The category highlights “outstanding” schemes that are cost-effective, provide a high level of service and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

The council’s service – which has increased recycling rates from 27 per cent to 50 per cent – was up against schemes run by Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, London Borough of Hillingdon, Peterborough City Council and Hull City Council.

In July 2009, plastic bottles and cardboard were added to the fortnightly recycling collection and a year later, weekly food waste collections were launched along with the extension of the fortnightly garden waste service to all homes with a garden.

Today’s announcement was made at Twickenham Stadium by BBC journalist and news presenter Bill Turnbull.

It comes on the same day as a report published by The TaxPayers’ Alliance which outlines the number of bins each council in the country collects and singles out the borough council for having nine containers.

Cllr. David Becket, Cabinet member for environment and recycling, said: “I’m delighted and very proud that Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s service has won this national award, especially as we were the only district council in the category and have today been unfairly criticised by The TaxPayers’ Alliance.

“Our new system – supported by WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) – is designed to produce the best quality material for recycling and has already produced dramatic results, while delivering £500,000 of savings.

“I would like to dedicate this award to our residents who have clearly embraced recycling and also our members of staff and contractors Acumen Distribution, Lower Reule Bioenergy and Simpro for providing an excellent service.”

The service improvements were designed to meet Government targets for reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Food waste is sent to an anaerobic digestion plant at Lower Reule Farm in Stafford where it is turned into electricity to power local homes and heat to grow strawberries.

And garden waste such as twigs, grass and leaves is turned into high quality compost for use on local farms.

For more information about recycling, visit www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/recycling.


The recycling and waste service provided by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has been shortlisted for a national award.

The borough council is nominated for the “Waste Management Award” at the Government Business Awards 2011.

Researchers looked at more than 400 collection and disposal authorities across the country to find “outstanding” schemes that are cost effective, provide a high level of service and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Other councils shortlisted for the accolade are Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, London Borough of Hillingdon, Peterborough City Council and Hull City Council.

The winner will be announced on 17 February at Twickenham Rugby Stadium.

Cllr. David Becket, Cabinet member for environment and recycling, said: “I’m delighted that we have been singled out nationally for best practice in waste management.

“Recycling in Newcastle has been revolutionised. We have an efficient scheme that separates materials at the kerbside which means all of it is turned into new products.

“But this recognition is not possible without the effort of residents, who have really embraced recycling.”

People can now recycle plastic bottles and cardboard as part of their fortnightly recycling collections.

Weekly food waste collections were later launched along with the extension of the garden waste service to all homes with a garden.

Food waste is sent to an anaerobic digestion plant at Lower Reule Farm in Stafford where it is turned into electricity, heat to grow strawberries and fertiliser for farms.

The diversion of useful material from the general rubbish bin means that these containers are now emptied every two weeks.

Recycling rates have since increased from 27 per cent to over 50 per cent.

For more information about recycling, visit www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/recycling .

Inaugural Lecture

David and Anne’s daughter, Professor Clare Holdsworth, will give her inaugural lecture at Keele on Tuesday March 15th at 6.00pm. It will be entitled” A degree isn’t enough anymore: Student experiences and orientation to HE”. The lecture will be held in the Westminster Theatre and is open to the public. Clare was appointed last year as Professor of Social Geography.


In the Borough there are a number of broken street lights where the ownership is unclear. One of these is the lamp at the top of The Butts by the Church Steps.
This summer the Cabinet agreed to repair these lamps. The replacement of our lamp is proving expensive as it is an antique lamp by a Grade 1 Listed Building in a Conservation Area
A suitable lamp has been identified and is on order, it is hoped the work will be complete in January.



There is speculation in the media as to the likelihood of the Coalition surviving. Will left wing Liberal Democrats or right wing Conservatives stay on board for much longer?

The problem is that the media, the general public and some of our parliamentarians do not understand the politics of coalition.

It is possible that the media do not want to understand the politics of coalition, good government is not good news but trying to trick MPs into indiscreet statements is. The majority of the right wing press do not want to see a strong third party.

It is at the local government level that the politics of coalition can be seen to be working. Many councils are now run by two party coalitions, and usually well run. Here in Newcastle the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has provided sound and inspirational government for over four years. Just reading the annual letters from the Audit Commission will show how far we have come in those four years.

I have worked at a senior level in two coalition councils, with Labour at Berkshire County Council and with the Conservatives at Newcastle. We had our difficult moments, but we got through them. With two parties there is likely to be more debate than in a single party government.

In coalition the rules change, and there are a number of guidelines that any elected representative in coalition should take into account.

  1. Your party did not win the election, you will not be able to deliver all of your manifesto, and  you will have to agree some actions that you oppose or have even campaigned against.
  2. Agree a programme, and stick to it.
  3. As far as the cabinet is concerned there is collective responsibility for all decisions. There may be blood all over the walls in private meetings but when the decision is taken all cabinet members must support it.
  4. The local (or national) party and backbenchers must make it clear which of those decisions are in line with party policy and those that are not.  Where the party does not agree with a decision it must present an alternative. This is essential to preserve the difference between the parties and to show the electorate that there is a difference between the members of the coalition. Remember you are presenting an alternative not attacking your coalition partners.
  5. Backbenchers and juniors in the administration should be free to speak up in support of party policy, but should take care not to overthrow the coalition for trivial reasons. This is not being two faced, it is supporting strong government whilst at the same time as presenting an alternative.
  6. You must use your political newsletters to promote the successes of the coalition, particularly those that have come from your party, and at the same time to promote your alternative policy where appropriate.
  7.  You do not make personal attacks on members of your coalition partner party.
  8. You must remember that the media do not work to the same standards as you do. If you secretly recorded an interview with a constituent you would be up before the Standards Board at record speed. The media do not have to behave in an open and honest fashion, and are almost certainly out to make mischief. Treat them with a long barge pole.

One notable exception from the media is The Independent. The recent leader on Coalition politics is one of the few recent articles that demonstrates a commentator who understands the true nature of the politics of Coalition. For those interested I have provided a link under the politics tab.

You may not like some of the actions of the coalition, I do not and am campaigning within my own party for the promotion of alternative policies on issues such as Student fees. However consider the alternatives at this difficult time. Give the politics of coalition a chance and we could come though this in a stronger position.


We have succeeded in getting the old Toll Board from the now closed Bluebell Inn at Wrinehill transferred to the Borough Museum, though it is not yet on public view. There was a risk that, with the pub closed and boarded up, this relic from the days when there were two tollgates at Wrinehill would be lost for ever. It had been a feature in the Lounge Bar for many years.