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Labour goes down with the ship in Bristol

Incinerator for Bristol sinks as Labour loses control

In an article published on the Bristol Evening Post website, entitled Lib Dems take over Bristol City Council, it was reported that:

The Liberal Democrats have taken control of Bristol City Council after Labour sensationally quit at a crucial budget meeting. The issue that brought the ruling party down on Tuesday night was the possibility of an incinerator being built to burn household waste.

The Post boasts that they “predicted last year that this could destroy the Labour cabinet and – if the Lib Dems did not accept the challenge to take power – lead to meltdown on the council. But last night Liberal Democrat leader Barbara Janke did accept the reins”.

According to the article, the hung council’s minority Labour administration had “tied its colours to the mast on long-term plans for household waste treatment”.

The Liberal Democrat party’s amendment, supported by the Conservatives, means that Labour’s proposal to spend £389,000 next year on furthering waste treatment plans already agreed with neighbouring councils in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire – both Tory-run – have been suspended.

Bristol and two of the other three West of England Partnership councils – not including Bath and North East Somerset – are applying for up to £90m of Government funding in the form of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits.

This has been intended to foot about half the bill for long-term waste treatment. No technology for this has been agreed but opponents have always feared an incinerator would eventually be chosen, with Avonmouth the likely location if it went ahead.

Conservative councillor for Avonmouth Spud Murphy said he was voting with the Lib Dems to oppose the plans because local people did not want an incinerator.

Mr Eddy said his whole group would back the Lib Dem amendment because they believed Labour was “wedded” to an incinerator.

Former Lib Dem leader Councillor Steve Comer accused Labour of “bluff and bluster” and denied that PFI was “the only show in town”.

He said there would be “a far greater risk to the environment and the people of Bristol” if the council and its partners pressed ahead with the PFI bid, including an incinerator as its “reference project”.

According to the BBC, this amounts to a decision to scrap plans for an incinerator in Bristol:

Liberal Democrats on Bristol City Council made an amendment to the budget to stop funding the incinerator scheme. Instead, money will be spent on home composting, street sweeping and a campaign to encourage recycling.

Councillor Gary Hopkins of the Liberal Democrat group said:

This is good news and means that the council should now look at alternatives to the costly incinerator. We want all four of the West of England authorities to be working together on this, something that hasn’t been possible to date because of the controversial incinerator plans.

As long as I and the Lib Dems make the decisions in this area there will be no movement towards any incinerator. We could though get voted out in June and there would be a serious danger of the whole monstrosity being resurrected. In the meantime work has started on exposing the problems that went unchecked and I will be speaking to our neighbours about a range of more positive alternatives.

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