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CAREERS - A NOT-SO-RUBBISH JOB

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Malcolm Dewsbury, Head of waste strategy and management, Lambeth LBC...
Malcolm Dewsbury, Head of waste strategy and management, Lambeth LBC

Advertised March 2006

Started work September 2006

Reports to Director of public realm

Qualifications

Diploma, Chartered Institute of Waste Management

Qualified environmental health officer

Degree in chemistry

Biggest challenge

'Trying to pull everything together.

So much is happening at the moment and waste management always seems to be in flux.'

Experience

Head, waste management, Suffolk Coastal Services

Principal environmental health officer, Suffolk Coastal DC

Team leader, hygiene action, Stockport MBC

Senior health and safety officer, Great Grimsby DC

Environmental health officer, Macclesfield BC

Environmental health officer, Wyre BC

Trainee public health inspector, Fleetwood MDC

Best part of the role

'Developing staff and helping them achieve some of their aims. It's very rewarding to see a member of staff who felt they couldn't do something in the past go on to achieve something.'

Lambeth's waste strategy challenge lured Malcolm Dewsbury, after seeing an advert in LGC, says Suzanne Simmons-Lewis

What is your new job?

I am head of waste strategy and management at Lambeth LBC.

Describe your responsibilities

My remit is to establish the strategic position for Lambeth on waste management and develop an action plan to improve Lambeth's performance. I also ensure that the council's successes are communicated, so residents and stakeholders can take pride in Lambeth - which is the logo that we have just adopted for our vehicles. We are currently in the middle of a re-organisation, and there will be 14 people in my team when that is complete. I will take on commercial waste as part of my role, and my£25m budget will increase as a result.

What attracted you to the role?

I've been an adviser to the LGA on waste management for some time, coming to London regularly where I'm in close contact with a number of waste management professionals. I wanted to work in London for a while, and Lambeth is definitely a good challenge. The council's waste performance in the UK context is middle of the field. I came from East Anglia, a top-performing region for waste management - and I know Lambeth can do better.

Why do you think you got the job?

My desire to succeed and ability to demonstrate that in a number of the councils for which I've worked, I have improved performance.

Describe a typical day

It's a busy time; we have just awarded a contract for waste provision to

Veolia Environmental Services, which involves a lot of meetings with contractors. For the restructure I've been working on designing the new structure and writing job descriptions for the waste management and street-care team.

What's best about the job and what are the biggest challenges?

Achieving the big and small successes - at the moment I am developing staff and helping them achieve some of their aims. It's very rewarding to see a member of staff who felt they couldn't do something in the past go on to achieve something. So much is happening at the moment, and waste management always seems to be in flux. Most challenging is trying to pull everything together, such as local legislation; the EU waste directive; and the UK's national waste strategy. The London mayor is looking for a single waste authority, and Lambeth is part of Western Riverside Waste, which has established its own strategy.

How is it going?

The team is working very well, they have a better sense of direction - in recent years there has been a fair amount of instability.

What has been your most surprising discovery?

The enthusiasm of staff and members - this is the first authority at which I have worked where, on the first day, I had an induction. They all came across as believing that Lambeth can, and will, improve.

What one thing would help you to do your job better?

More resources. In previous roles, I've managed to improve service performance by increasing infrastructure -such as the introduction of wheelie-bin services - and that could mean extra resources in terms of getting out and interacting with the public. But I have to be realistic about the demands on an authority such as Lambeth.

How will your type of role develop in the future?

With Ken Livingstone wanting a single waste authority, I'd say that if boroughs want to be close to the population and respond to their needs, there will be a strategic role for waste management. It's the one service that meets residents weekly, and it's the service thought by many residents to be the sole reason for council tax.

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