Liberal Democrats criticise Labour's reluctance to take action on plastic bags

A move to reduce the amount of plastic bags across the borough has been stalled by Labour-run Haringey Council, despite recent successes by residents and independent traders in Crouch End.

In a motion to the Full Council meeting last night, Liberal Democrats proposed that Haringey Council leads the way in promoting similar schemes to Crouch End’s ‘Bag for Life’, with the aim of making Haringey plastic bag free by 2010.

There was outrage in the Chamber when Labour’s controversial environment boss, Brian Haley, said that the idea was “unnecessary and unworkable” – despite the success of the scheme. Another Labour councillor claimed that the “unions weren’t consulted”.

Lib Dem councillor Bob Hare, who proposed the motion, said the response of Labour was “mean minded” and showed “a lack of willingness to engage.”

Mr Hare, Highgate councillor and Lib Dem sustainability spokesperson, comments:

“I am extremely disappointed that Labour has failed to support this motion. Full support of Haringey Council would have sent a signal that Haringey is taking the problem of plastic bags seriously and wants to lead the way on tackling climate change on a local level.

“Once again Haringey Labour is lacking the political leadership to stand with residents and support a proven grass-roots initiative that has already saved over half a million bags in Crouch End alone – instead waiting for legislation that their own reports admit may never come.

“Haringey Labour talk about working with residents and their commitment to the environment, but at the first, inexpensive and proven opportunity to put this into action, they fail to act.”

Cllr Lyn Weber (Crouch End) adds:

“In Crouch End, residents and traders have backed a great scheme that has culminated in the Crouch End ‘Bag for Life’. By rejecting our proposals to promote this across the London Borough of Haringey, Labour has discredited their hard work. It is very discouraging now for other areas looking to introduce similar schemes if Haringey Council has shut the door in their faces.

“Some of the comments from Labour were astonishing – that local action on climate change was not a priority, and that the benefits of a reduction in plastic bags would only be good for big business. We say that reducing our dependency on plastic bags would be a long-term benefit to everyone in this borough. Unfortunately the inward looking Labour administration have once again failed to engage with residents to work together to combat climate change.”