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Ealing and Northfield

Labour heads in the sand

Last night the Labour administration had the opportunity to get on the front foot and apologise to a full council meeting for the unfolding waste and re-cycling disaster that is sweeping across the borough. They chose not to take it and instead stuck their collective head firmly in the sand.

Ealing’s waste system moves from the south east to the north west over the course of the working week. For it to fall over so badly across Southfield, Ealing Common, Acton, Northfield and Hanwell on Monday bodes ill for the rest of the week. Problems are likely to multiply through the week and then be redoubled again by the Easter bank holiday.

It seems that the new contractor has hired the wrong vehicles to get the contract underway and is asking crews to take on beats that are much larger than the old ones. Many of the Borough’s roads are very narrow and the previous contractor had learned through hard experience that smaller vehicles were required to service some of our roads. To cope with the emergency the new contractor is grabbing people’s carefully sorted recycling and mixing it in the back of a range of vehicles. The council claim that this mixed waste will go to a Materials Recycling Facility (or “Murf”) for recycling but in doing so much of the value of the waste stream will be lost and more will go to landfill than would otherwise have been the case.

The great improvement in recycling rates in this borough have been achieved by the hard work of its residents. Seeing their hard work taken for granted will cause people to think twice about their role in the system. Labour had other things to talk about at the full council meeting last night so failed to take the opportunity to apologise. Today the leader of the council, Labour’s Cllr Julian Bell, wants to talk about Olympic loveliness in his Gazette column.

The council bureaucracy has issued an apology by making a statement on its website. The portfolio holder, who is ultimately responsible, Cllr Bassam Mahfouz, showed cowardice under fire and pushed his executive director, into the line of fire to take the bullet:

Keith Townsend, executive director of environment and customer services, said: “I would like to apologise to anyone whose collection has been missed. We are doing our utmost to ensure refuse and recycling collections continue to run smoothly but we would ask for residents’ patience as the new contractor takes over.”

I wonder how long that press release will stay on the council’s website?

10 replies on “Labour heads in the sand”

Phil,
Thank you for putting up my comments about this. I have a further question for you and this stems from an absolutely amazing post on the Ealing Today Forum about the tendering selection process for the environment contractor last year:

Callista Cienka said: “Reason why we have an incompetent contractor with innapropriate kit rather than a competent contractor with appropriate kit seems to be purely political and the labour party in ealing are going to have to do some explaining to the ombudsman as why townsend and bell have based their choices on party politics rather providing ealing residents with proper services when I finish my complaint. Tthe West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign website hosts this piece of insight (http://westmidspsc.org/boycott/?p=55)similar stuff on west london palestine liberation campaign website.

“Veolia continues to pay a high price for
aiding Israel’s occupation, as it loses yet another contract

“Wednesday 3rd August 2011
“In another victory for Palestinian rights, Ealing Council, in London , has failed to select Veolia for a comprehensive tender for its domestic refuse, street cleaning and parks maintenance contract. The contract is worth approx £300m in total over 15 years and one of Ealing Council’s largest single contracts. This is even more significant given the fact that Veolia had the previous parks maintenance contract.
“Veolia remains involved in the building and future operation of a light-rail tramway linking Israel’s illegal settlements with West Jerusalem, facilitating Israel’s ‘grave breaches’ of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Veolia Transport Israel also runs two bus services serving the same function as the tramway: supporting and consolidating illegal settlements and tying them more closely into Israel.
“Sarah Colborne, PSC Director, said: ‘Veolia’s loss of this contract, following its failure in a number of significant bids in Britain and internationally, is a clear sign that Veolia is paying a high price for its complicity in Israel’s occupation and violations of international law. West London PSC, together with other groups and individuals supporting Palestinian rights, wrote and met councillors from across the political spectrum and council officials, and submitted detailed factual and legal analysis. Veolia must realise that until it pulls out of all its activities serving Israel ’s illegal settlements, it will continue to be a target for the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Through BDS, those committed to peace and justice are sending a message – we don’t buy into Israel ’s violations of Palestinian rights’”
The implications of this are mind-boggling and another poster: Siobhan McNally takes this to conclusion saying: ” What I find really concerning about all this is not whether Veolia would have been better or not, but whether a pro-Islamist anti-Zionist Palestinian group has really managed to influence what should be a completely transparent tendering process based on quality of service and cost as they are implying on their website.
“If this is the case what other decisions is the present administration allowing to be influenced?”

Do you have any insight or idea why Palistinian polical organisations are claiming to have driven the tendering process in Ealing.

(Again, please edit this as necessary there are some very important questions to be asked).

Hi Phil

I’d just like to add that after 3 days the recycling boxes where I live in Hanwell have finally been emptied. Sadly all the carefully sorted items were just thrown in the back of an Ealing refuse van (used for fly tipped waste) , and I suspect very much that this will just go to landfill and not get recycled.
Very disappointed….

Astonishing stuff if this Israeli/Palestine issue can be proved with regards Veolia’s failure to gain contract renewal. Just how does anyone go about validating this allegation?

I have just been told that Enterprise has been thrown out of four similar contracts around the country in recent times with them lasting between one week and one month in: Glasgow, Haringey, Cornwall with the most recent loss being Hillingdon where they lasted just week. They lost three of these contracts in the past month.

Is this true? Why did Ealing Council choose this contractor with a track-record like this? Did Council Executive DIrector Keith Townsend not monitor what was happening to other Enterprise local authority contracts around the country? This could have been averted.

I have also been told that Enterprise has reduced the workforce for servicing Ealing by 150 people. How are cleanliness standards to be improved (as Mahfouz claims) let alone maintained with 150 fewer people?
Will Malmet says:

The 150 fewer staff explains why they were able to underbid everyone else by £3 million. The math is simple: 150 multiplied by £20,000 = £3 million.

Phil
You have plenty of reason to take a pop at Bassam, but it was not his job to check that the contract had been set up properly in every detail.

That was the job of the Director, especially as it is reported that that this is one of Ealing’s largest contracts.

This Director has come into the public domain on a number of issues. Perhaps the Tory party should be telling us what they think of him in particular.

Thoughts?

Cabinet delegated the Director of Environment and Leisure (Roger Jones) all of the powers of the Supervising officer under the Environmental Services Contract on the 26 July 2011.

This is yet another showing of incompetence exhibited by this officer, and his role (or lack of) within the organisation needs to be carefully scrutinised.

Point being – someone needs to be made accountable for this mess.

If you go onto the council website you find the council Cabinet minutes detailing the decisions that were put in place last year to transition to the new copntractor. Interestingly no mention of a transition plan.

The main guy (as we have seen from the press releases) is Keith Townsend, the executive director for environment and customer services. Beneath him the structure is as follows (as per the minutes http://www2.ealing.gov.uk/services/council/committees/agendas_minutes_reports/cabinet/24may2011-15may2012.html):

Title
Award of Environmental Services Contract 2012
Responsible Officer(s)
Roger Jones, Director of Environment & Leisure
Author(s)
Roger Jones, Director of Environment & Leisure
Earl Mckenzie, Assistant Director Street Services
Chris Hartnell, Head of Finance – Environment and Customer Services
Terry-Ann Cramp, Project Manager
Catherina Pack, Waste Strategy Manager
Portfolio(s)
Cllr Bassam Mahfouz Transport & Environment

Three areas worthy of note within the minutes are:
*The narrow and special vehicles that the council owned for use in Ealing’s narrow streets were sold off by the council leaving the contractor to provide its own (two large) equioment, see cabinet minutes:
1.4 Cabinet is recommended to allow the sale proceeds from the disposal of the current waste vehicle fleet to be retained within the Environmental Services Contract in order to fund the capital cost of alterations to Greenford depot and the new contract management IT implementation costs.

*What happened to the “robust contract management”:
See council cabinet minutes:
8.2 During mobilisation and handover/decommissioning period, there is a risk that there may be a reduction in current contract performance levels. This will be mitigated by robust contract management and continued utilisation of the existing performance management framework.

*Strangely enough no one has heard from the Director of Environment and Leisure during all this: Cabinet minutes:
1.5 Cabinet is recommended to delegate to the Director of Environment and Leisure all of the powers of the Supervising officer under the Environmental Services Contract including the power to use in whole or in part those sums described as provisional sums in the Contract in connection with the services.

The process of tendering consulted the following people:
Keith Townsend Executive Director, Environment & Customer Services
Roger Jones Director, Environment & Leisure
Chris Hartnell Head of Finance, Environment & Customer Services
Catherine Taylor Head of Litigation & Contracts
Cllr Bassam Mahfouz Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment
Darren Sullivan Procurement Manager, Strategic Procurement
Adele Taylor Director of Finance – Services

As to which of these is Kaiser Souso (criminal boogey-man who is never seen) and who is the all-hearing and all-seeing Valdemort, that is an interesting question for the reader.

The responsible officer for the Environmental Services Contract is Roger Jones – why is this person hiding in the shadows, and what is his role in managing this contract? surely a high profile and visible service such as this needs to be carefully and fully managed in its early stages?

The ‘narrow’ streets within the Ealing borough are no different to other London streets, and if other councils can succesfully manage a change in contractors, why not our council?

Also what percentage of the collected ‘mixed’ waste is actually being recycled?

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