Author: Andy Johnston

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Empowering flooded communities

One of the most striking images of the recent floods that have hit the South West has been the long term flooding of the Somerset Levels and the helplessness expressed by everyone from local residents to Prince Charles. Part of that helplessness is undoubtedly because the floods are caused by unpredictable weather patterns but it…

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Local energy schemes

In her leader column(£), the MJ’s Heather Jameson highlights the efforts of several local authorities as they develop community energy schemes. These schemes not only provide cheap energy to the fuel poor but also provide income that the community can invest.

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Rio Earth Summit: local government leading the way

The LGiU has been working hard over the past months to get the UK government to recognise a local dimension to sustainable development. The perfect excuse for such a debate was provided by the Earth Summit – Rio+20, governance was on the agenda. However, the response to the opportunities provided by local sustainability has been hard to detect.…

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Raingain project

Today in Paris is the launch of Raingain. Raingain is a project funded by the EU to provide local authorities with rapid warning of flooding from heavy rain. The LGiU is working in partnership with the Met Office, Imperial College and partners in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Through our Local Government Flood Forum we…

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Report: ‘The Ten Pillars of Local Energy Security’

With the government releasing its latest White Paper on shaping future energy delivery and consumption in the UK, what are the roles and responsibilities of council leaders in shaping future energy deliver and consumption in the UK? In this new LGiU guide – ‘The 10 Pillars of Local Energy Security’ (pdf) – I propose that…

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The Big Society needs failure

In his recent book ‘Adapt’ Tim Harford takes a Darwinian view of ideas and organisations arguing that failure is essential to future success. It’s quite easy to see how this approach may appeal to the swashbuckling entrepreneur and find support in the cut and thrust of the market. However, what does it mean for public…

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What can councils learn from bees?

Nature, it turns out, can tell us quite a lot about how we queue, communicate and decide things. In his book Smart Swarm, Peter Miller explains how bees decide on the location of their new nest site. The location of a new nest is not a trivial choice, its life or death. The bees get…

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What collaborative consumption means for local authorities

Today I took delivery of a key to the Boris Bikes, the cycle sharing scheme which was launched in London last year. Bike sharing is an example of what Rachel Botsman calls Collaborative Consumption. In the book ‘Whats mine is yours’ that she co-wrote with Roo Rogers. Botsman argues that this new phenomena emerged as a…

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The future accountability of councils?

The recent spat between the LGA and CLG on bin collections could be an indication of things to come. Eric Pickles’ dislike of fortnightly bin collections is well known and therefore it is not surprising that the first time waste collections were disrupted would be taken as an opportunity to remind councils of  his position.…

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Waste dating – first base or all the way?

Boris has launched a ‘waste dating agency’ for London.  The idea is that anyone generating waste can be put in touch with someone who recycles or treats waste.  In terms of efficiently managing London’s waste this must be a good thing, right? The devil is in the detail, the ‘dating agency’ has a built in emphasis on…

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