Sir Keir Starmer has said there is never justification for fly-tipping as he campaigned for Labour’s North Lincolnshire candidates.
The issue has been a hot topic in the district’s local election, where Labour is hoping to take the council off the Conservatives after losing control of it 12 years ago.
The Labour leader said offenders would be made to clean their mess up if his party took control of government.
“Fly-tipping is abhorrent, talk to anyone in Scunthorpe and they’ll be against fly-tipping,” he told local reporters.
“I reject the argument that fly-tipping is justified or somehow capable of being justified because there aren’t enough places for waste.
“I don’t accept it’s just low level, you’ve got to put up with it. I think it’s serious, it really is affecting communities, and it spoils the countryside.
“What we think is a much more effective action is to not only deal with the culprits but to make them part of the clean-up operation. There’s a very strong message in Scunthorpe and other places, if you get involved in fly-tipping, under a Labour government you’ll be made to clear it up.
“Wherever we talk to people about that, there’s huge support for that. And absolutely zero support for the idea that somehow you could ever justify fly-tipping.”
Sir Keir’s remarks on fly tipping and commitment to offender clean-up squads with a Labour government comes as the topic has heavily featured in council election campaigns in northern Lincolnshire.
The opposition party is also highlighting the windfall profits of energy giants such as BP and calling for loopholes in the existing windfall tax on oil and gas companies to be removed. That topic, the Humber region recently missing out on initial carbon capture development negotiations with government, voter ID and Labour’s intention to bring back compulsory house building targets were also covered in the interview.
Sir Keir was asked for the thinking behind the fly-tipping clean-up squads and whether he felt it would make a difference compared to a focus more on greater legal waste disposal facilities.
There were four fly-tipping incidents a day recorded by North Lincolnshire Council in 2021/22. Conservative council leader Cllr Rob Waltham has defended the party’s record on the issue in North Lincolnshire during the election campaign.
He said there were more cameras in place and support for community litter pickers, and promised if in control again, the Conservatives will continue to be tough on enforcement and the perpetrators of environmental crime. Since July, the council is also trialling over two years £150 fines for dropping litter.
Energy and carbon capture
Based on Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) figures, the Labour Party estimates an £11bn handout to oil and gas companies through loopholes in the windfall tax on recent inflated profits. BP alone announced earlier this week a £4bn profit in the first three months of the year.
Labour say they would close the loopholes on the Energy Profits Levy and use the toughened up windfall tax to pay for a council tax freeze if they were in government now.
“Everybody accepts that energy companies, oil and gas, need to make a profit to invest,” Sir Keir said, but they were making inflated profits. “There’s money on the table, unexpected windfall profit, and we would tax it effectively to directly help those in Scunthorpe who are struggling with their bills.”
At the end of March, the Humber region missed out on getting the initial pick for negotiations with the government for carbon capture development. The technology captures and stops from releasing into the atmosphere CO2 from industrial processes.
The Humber has a host of net zero and carbon capture-related projects in the pipeline and prompted the consortium Zero Carbon Humber to warn the region could miss out on £15bn private investment as a result.
Sir Keir was asked if a Labour government would take a look at the decision and prioritise the region for carbon capture. He said it was raised as a concern by a number of people and businesses when he visited the region in April.
“Carbon capture is a huge opportunity for us, particularly in relation to the Humber region. I would want to work with local communities and local businesses to make absolutely every use of the carbon capture opportunities that we’ve got.
“We are uniquely placed to be a global leader when it comes to carbon capture,” he said, adding it would have a huge impact for the Humber, and Hull and East Yorkshire.
The local elections on May 4 are the first nationwide elections where accepted forms of photo ID will be required to vote in person. The Labour leader was worried about the number of people potentially turned away on May 4 and if an inquiry will be needed.
“If anybody in Scunthorpe arrives at a polling station not knowing they needed that ID, that is a complete failure of the government. They changed the rules, unnecessarily in my view, and it was incumbent on them to have a massive campaign to make sure nobody turns up without ID.”
He confirmed as a result of a House of Lords amendment last Autumn, there will be an inquiry into the effectiveness of the introduction of voter ID after the May local elections. Sir Keir encouraged everyone to exercise their right to vote and ensure they had the appropriate ID with them.
“I understand the dream of home ownership,” said Sir Keir as he explained Labour’s newest policy, to bring back compulsory house building targets. These have been scrapped by the Conservatives under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“When I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money but we did have our own home, and it gave us a great sense of security.” He said by scrapping the target, there would be the lowest level of house building since the Second World War, which was “not acceptable”.
But while Labour will bring back the house building targets, Sir Keir was clear this would be in tandem with greater local say. “I would also give more power to local authorities to decide where the housing is.”
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