Antrim Alliance Councillor Alan Lawther has said that ratepayers must not be called upon to cover for the incompetence of the Department of the Environment on waste management, after a damning report on the department’s performance in Parliament.
Cllr Lawther stated: “We in the Alliance Party have led the way in ensuring as far as possible that waste management policies at Council level – the only level of directly elected representation in Northern Ireland – have come up to European standards. We have done this to protect the environment, but also to ensure ratepayers are not forced to pay EU
fines through local rates rises.
“After all this hard work, now people are hearing how bureaucrats who are accountable to no one but colonial ministers are failing to meet their end of the deal. The threat of EU fines therefore looms large – but this is not the fault of the democratically elected representatives who have done all they can to avoid them.
“Therefore, it is totally unacceptable that the ratepayer should be threatened with having to cover such fines. People are already seriously struggling to pay rates hikes. There is no possible excuse for making them pay more for bureaucratic incompetence.
“People are getting utterly fed up with reports to Westminster committees revealing incompetence within departments. Innocent, hard-working people should not have to pay for official failings. It is time responsibility is placed with those responsible – and the quickest way to do this would be to get realistic about restoring the Executive so that local, accountable ministers take over this responsibility.
“In the meantime, Alliance representatives will not shirk responsibility on delivering their end of the bargain on waste management and responsible environmental protection.”