Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Re-cycling on the go!

bin there, done that...

Yesterday I launched a new project between Coca-Cola Great Britain and Southampton City Council as part of a strategic recycling initiative by the company which will mean the installation of fifty new recycling bins in Southampton city centre.
The ‘Recycle Zone’ partnership will make it easier for residents to recycle bottles and cans when they are out and about.There are 15 stainless steel bins for recycling and 35 black ones that are dual – one side for recycling and the other for general litter.
Coca-Cola has chosen Southampton City Council as the first local authority to host a city-centre Recycle Zone. This builds on the work the company has been leading across the country over the past year in partnership with Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to launch Recycle Zones in shopping centres, theme parks, transport hubs and universities.
There are currently 21 other live Recycle Zones which to date have collected some 20 tonnes of material for recycling, with a further 59 Zones planned by the end of 2011.
Southampton City centre will have 15 double stainless steel bins, liveried with the phrase ‘Keep it Going. Recycle’ with a further 35 dual recycling and litter bins located in parks and other central locations in the city.
All the new recycling bins are stylish in design and will be branded with Southampton City Council and Coca-Cola logos alongside information designed to inspire people to recycle more often.
Southampton City Council’s waste management team have also been provided with a branded collection vehicle to help with the specific collection and maintenance of the bins.
The launch of the Recycle Zone will be supported by a bespoke advertising campaign across the city, with outdoor, print and digital media all being used to encourage Southampton’s residents and visitors to make use of the facilities.
In addition, a new national ‘Keep it Going. Recycle’ campaign shows how recycling drinks bottles and cans can make a major difference to the environment by cutting the carbon footprint of a packaged drink by over a half. The campaign continues the work Coca-Cola undertook last year in partnership with the Carbon Trust which showed that packaging accounts for the largest proportion of a drink’s carbon footprint, underlining the importance for the business of using more recycled material in bottles and cans and of helping to increase consumer recycling levels.
The launch of the new Recycle Zone and ad campaign are just a couple of the steps in Coca-Cola’s journey to help consumers do more to reduce their impact on the environment. Despite the difficult economic conditions, research indicates that consumers are still concerned about ‘green’ issues, with recycling being the most commonly practised ‘green’ lifestyle behaviour.
As a result Southampton City Council and Coca-Cola are working to make it as easy as possible for people to recycle more often within the city. By boosting consumer recycling levels, Coca-Cola will at the same time be increasing the supply of local recyclate and be able to increase the amount of recycled content in its bottles and cans.
This is a fantastic value for money initiative, which will hopefully get more people recycling in the city. We know that in Southampton we need to do all we can to get people to recycle and, particularly, to make it easy for people to recycle and by working with Coca-Cola we can go some way towards achieving this.
I even had support from Robbie Robinson, Chair of Pensioners Forum who said: “This is a great idea, because you can recycle your plastic bottles and drink cans instead of them ending up in the general litter bin. It will help keep the parks and city clean, green and tidy." Praise indeed!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fighting Fly Tipping!

Convicted criminals clean up flytipping mess in Millbrook in Southampton
as part of the 'community payback' scheme.

On Thursday, Southampton City Council unveiled the latest weapon in the fight against fly tippersSmart Water.
Smart Water is a colourless liquid which contains a unique chemical code which is registered to a particular user. It is applied to items and materials and is most commonly used as a way to protect people’s belongings from theft. Smart Water greatly increases the chances of recovering items if they are stolen as well as delivering a 100 per cent conviction rate when used as evidence in court. The technology has been adopted by a number of organisations across the UK to tackle crime such as burglary and shoplifting, and now Southampton City Council is the first local authority in the country to harness the technology to catch fly tippers.
In joint operations with the city council and the police, suspected fly tippers have been stopped and the contents of their vehicles searched and sprayed. Should these items end up being unlawfully dumped they are easily identifiable and the culprits can be traced. Used overtly in this way, Smart Water can be an effective tool in getting the message across about the likelihood of being caught if items on a property or vehicle are later found to be illegally dumped. It is particularly useful when dealing with the problem of rubbish and bulky items left in gardens, which too often end up being dumped on the street, in alleyways or on open land.
Council officers have also been out in the community talking to residents and explaining how Smart Water works and how items that are marked with the liquid can be traced back to where they came from. Waste must be disposed of legally and safely then those responsible could face prosecution.
Smart Water can also be used covertly to gain evidence and convict persistent fly tippers. Materials can be discreetly sprayed and the information recorded. Should these items end up being fly tipped they can be traced back to where they came from.
Personally, I'm pleased Southampton is leading the way with the use of innovative means of snaring illegal fly tippers. People who dump their waste illegally are not only blighting the environment and putting residents at risk, but they also face the risk of prosecution and a heavy fine. And now we have an even better chance of identifying the culprits. It is not fair that the law abiding majority should have to pay to clear up after a selfish minority. The city council provides many free and legal ways for disposing of waste. Mindlessly dumping rubbish on the side of the road or in our green spaces is lazy and selfish and costs the council a small fortune to clear up.

Alan Clark- A caricature of himself.

Clarke the dandy- pictured in 1984.

The political conference season is the time that most publishers choose to publish political biographies and memoirs but the gruel is desperately thin this year- one of the worst I can remember. Ion Trewin's "Alan Clark- the biography" is one bright spot however and all the broadsheets have carried reviews of Trewin's latest work in recent days. Ion's book is very sympathetic to Clark, glossing over his obsessions (with Nazi's, women, even girls, his deeply unpleasant treatment of Jane and all the rest) while playing up his (usually) brilliant writing, his wit and his political career but it is nonetheless a good read of a man who was both cruel and flawed while being personable and talented, even likable. Some of the more sensationalist bits can be read HERE.

Clarke's diaries are the stuff of legend of course, brilliant writing combines mixing tales of power and intrigue at Westminster as (if not quite) a Thatcher insider then certainly a bit part player with Clarke's own leching and sexual successes as well as hypochondria.

It seems everyone has a memory of him.

I only met the great (but flawed) man once- at a Times literary debate between Alan Clark and John Charmley on one side who (revisiting the central thesis of John Charmely's 'Grand Alliance) were arguing that Churchill actually didn't need to work so hard and at considerable cost to GB to bring the United States into the war as it was inevitable anyway. Chaired by the then editor of The Times, Peter Stothard, this motion was opposed by a very elderly but articulate Robert Blake (The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher) and young Turk Andrew Roberts (who had just authored 'Eminent Churchillians'). I remember being fairly amused when Clark spoke in the debate as 'a very real historian' as he was certainly in the company of three far superior ones, and his only substantial work was Clark's first book, The Donkeys (1961), a revisionist history of the British Expeditionary Force's campaigns at the beginning of the Great War that was somewhat one-sided in its treatment of British generals of the First World War that in any event had been written 30 years before the debate that evening! Afterwards there was a drinks reception in the foyer of the general synod hall of the Church of England and Clark seemed genuinely delighted that both me and my mate had bought copies of the first volumes of his diaries to sign. When he asked what I did and I told him that I had just graduated in history, he wrote in my book, "To Matthew Dean, an amateur historian from a professional one. Alan Clark". I have to admit I did laugh- but only afterwards! At that moment a Lotus 7 pulled up outside driven by a very elegant Asian looking lady and, acting in almost a characterture of himself, Alan Clark said, 'I must go' and dashed after the lady outside!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Southampton Boat show set to smash records!

Above- Independence of the Seas pictured as she leaves the show and below,
view from Town Quay.
On Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the Southampton Boat Show which is the largest outdoor boat show in the UK. The weather was glorious (unlike the last couple of years) and I am delighted to say (given the importance of the show to the economy) that the crowds were out in force- so much so that I wouldn't be surprised if, in terms of visitor numbers, this isn't the biggest Southampton Boat Show ever. From my own portfolio point of view, I am glad to say that the traffic was manageable (although I walked there, cue round of applause!) and I took a little quiet satisfaction as I mingled in the crowds in knowing that the Council has safeguarded the future of the show in Southampton until 2020.
Although the Boatshow organisers haven't said so, I am pretty sure that this will also be the largest show in terms of the number of exhibitors and it might even be in terms of gross value of orders taken at the show by exhibitors which would be remarkable in the current climate. That certainly seems possible if people follow the example of Eddie Jordan who bought one of the flagship £12million, 47 meter Sunseeker yachts.
It was good to see local businesses represented too- such as Dalmeny Leisure with their Banana Wharf and Dockgate 4 Bars, Wise Catering and Romsey's Hunton Powerboats to name three examples known to me personally.
Fingers crossed that the weather holds up and the exhibitors go on to have a fantastic week!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Off to APHA.

I'm off to Newcastle upon Tyne for a few days for the annual Association of Port Health Authorities conference in my capacity as a Board Member.
Given the size of our port operation, Southampton is a significant player.
Port Health is one activity that recieves very little public interest (in fact Officers from other authorities complain that they struggle to get even elected Councillors interested) which is a little disconcerting as the work they do in keeping UK plc safe and well is of growing importance in this global age. Stopping unsafe imports of both finished food products but also food ingrediants is the obvious side of their work but stopping the spead of communicable diseases, looking after the Health & Safety interests of both crews and passengers, stopping the illegal import of dangerous or non compliant goods, assisting in the prevention of smuggling and people trafficking are all hugely important areas of work.
The interesting thing is that Labour started moves a few years ago to take responsibility away from local councils in the area of port health and centralise it in a new government quango (sorry, agency!) but drew away when it realised that, generally speaking, how effective councils were in this area and how much more expensive it would be if central government was to do it. Ordinarily, I guess that, on previous experience, that wouldn't have bothered them overly but a significant recharge is made to the importers themselves and not many of them would have stood for a huge hike in the prices!
Anyway, I am looking forward to the speakers and also the Newcastle nightlife- a few of the port health officers are into real ale and I am sure we will find some decent pubs plus I never have had (although I am assured it still exists) cask Newcastle Brown ale!