Son of waste driver becomes Labour shadow secretary

In a reshuffle of his shadow cabinet Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has appointed Jim McMahon MP to the post of shadow environment secretary.

Jim McMahon MP who has become Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Mr McMahon, who will be the counterpart for George Eustice, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, is the son of a former truck driver for the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority.

In 2017, Mr McMahon – who is MP for Oldham West and Royton – spoke of his father in a House of Commons committee meeting on the legislation to create the Greater Manchester Combined Authority which operates today and has absorbed the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority.

In the committee, Mr McMahon said he had to declare an interest in the legislation.

The new shadow secretary of state for the environment said in 2017: “I put on record a declaration of interest. My father is a truck driver who used to work for the Greater Manchester waste disposal authority until its transfer to Viridor under the private finance initiative contracted there. Unlike me, he has a proper job, as I think he would say.”


And, in the committee he queried the detail of the transfer of the assets of the GMWDA and the situation around Wigan metropolitan borough council which remains outside of the current Greater Manchester Combined Authority which has nine member councils. This is known to be an ongoing area of discussion in Greater Manchester.

“It would good to get some clarification – today or in writing – on the transfer of assets and liabilities for the waste disposal contract to the Greater Manchester combined authority. At the moment, the Greater Manchester waste disposal authority is made up of nine of the 10 local authorities within Greater Manchester, with Wigan outside that agreement. There would have been room for Wigan to opt into that quite recently, particularly when the private finance initiative contract was being negotiated in 2009, but Wigan local authority members decided, for their own reasons, that it was not for them.”

Mr McMahon added: “On paper, talking about waste disposal sounds like a very dry subject. It is, but it also involves a great deal of public money. When the PFI contract was agreed in 2009, at £3.8 billion that was the largest PFI in the whole of Europe. We are now only eight years into that contract, so a significant amount of money is being transferred.”


Today Suez has the contract for Greater Manchester and this significant contract will transfer to Veolia if the latter’s acquisition of Suez goes through.

Mr McMahon also has another connection with the waste and recycling sector in that his predecessor in the Oldham seat was Michael Meacher MP who died in 2015. Mr Meacher is thought to have been the minister who held the waste and recycling brief for the longest time ever.

Details of appointments of shadow ministers who would report to Mr McMahon are expected to be released in the coming days.

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