We had a long meeting at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee tonight – almost three hours long. It was not without its drama though, however fleeting.
The Conservative opposition â€œcalled inâ€ a couple of cabinet decisions from the cabinetâ€™s 22nd June meeting. One of them was the decision to go out to tender for repairs and maintenance of council housing. See here.
For the second month running Labourâ€™s housing spokesman, Hitesh Tailor, was having to defend Labourâ€™s housing policy. The council hopes to save 10-15% from its Â£7 million repairs and maintenance contract. The Conservative group is suspicious that the new administration will try to justify its decision to bring housing management in house with savings it could have made regardless of who did this job.
In his presentation Tory group leader Jason Stacey asked to what extent Labour would use this opportunity to deliver on two of its manifesto promises:
A revamp of the [council house] repairs service with additional craftsmen to do the repairs and less bureaucracy to reduce delays.
Firm support for the London Living Wage for all Council staff and contractors.
Cllr Tailorâ€™s answer evaded these two points so I pressed him on them when my turn came. Tailor refused to commit to the London Living Wage for this contract and Pat Hayes, the officer responsible who had turned up to baby sit Tailor, explained that the selection criteria would include issues such as local labour, apprenticeships and the proportion of work that can be subcontracted.
So, it seems that Labourâ€™s promises of more craftsmen working on council house repairs is being translated into apprentices working at minimum wage levels. Oh dear!
As I pointed out yesterday if Labourâ€™s manifesto promises did not make it into the â€œImmediate Priorityâ€ box then they ainâ€™t happening. Tailorâ€™s answer today proves that the London Living Wage promise is worthless.