Concerns with the Department relating to the NWLA’s compliance with its duties as a best value authority

Nature of Request


Date received

Dear Martin,

Last year, the Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP raised concerns with the Department relating to the NWLA’s compliance with its duties as a best value authority. In April, our Secretary of State the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP asked officials to engage directly with your authority and its external auditor, Mazars, to better understand the NWLA’s arrangements for decision making, including governance, scrutiny and external audit. This engagement has now concluded, and the Department will not be taking any further action at this time.

I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise your duties as a best value authority under the Local Government Act 1999. A best value authority must make arrangements to secure continuous improvement, and the Department expects authorities to act transparently and seek external challenge and scrutiny in support of this. I therefore encourage you to take steps to ensure that, wherever possible, your organisation makes public information that would aid public understanding and scrutiny of your past and future decision making.

I am pleased to note that the NLWA have invited the Local Government Association to undertake a Corporate Peer Challenge, which I understand will take place this month. This form of external challenge is an important part of authorities making arrangements to secure continuous improvement, and I hope that the experience is valuable to the Authority and its partners and stakeholders. I understand that you intend for the Authority to be transparent in its response to the Peer Challenge report, and in how it is delivering against any recommendations for continuous improvement over time.
A copy of this letter will be shared with the Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP.

Yours sincerely,


Response date

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities has confirmed that it will take no action in response to arguments that Government should take an interest in the operation of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA).

NLWA serves two million residents across seven north London boroughs. It is responsible for dealing with household recycling and bin-bag waste. NLWA is a local authority comprising two councillors from each of its constituent boroughs.

Martin Capstick, NLWA’s Managing Director received the news via email and letter. 

The Department’s decision follows a request by the Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP to the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, to check whether NLWA was complying with its duties as a ‘best value authority’. NLWA officers met Departmental officials prior to the letter being sent confirming that no Government action will be taken.

Martin Capstick said: “NLWA is careful to follow its statutory responsibilities and comply with its statutory duties. This letter confirms that to be the case. I have thanked Government officials for the time they have spent on this issue and for the considered way in which they approached a task which the Authority always felt was unnecessary.  The Authority team will continue to take forward its plans as approved by our Councillor Members to serve the residents of north London.”