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Ealing and Northfield

Rubbish fiasco: Competence issue

What did the council do with the five months notice that it had?

Mistakes happen. Not everything always goes as it should. Should we give the council the benefit of the doubt over the rubbish fiasco? I don’t think so.

The council could see this coming. It seems that the council had sight of Enterprise’s mobilisation plan in October 2011, at least 5 clear months before the main part of the contract started (see answer to question 21). The council knew about the use of temporary vehicles in November 2011, at least 4 clear months before (see question 11).

One can only speculate about what happened when the council got this information. Did the officers and executive merely accept the assurances of the contractor that everything would be alright on the day? Did they cross their fingers and hope? The council had 4/5 months notice that this contract was going to go wrong. What did they do?

Note: The council finally published the answwers to the Tory group’s questions this morning, here.

2 replies on “Rubbish fiasco: Competence issue”

Phil
As you know I and other posters, plus others are not happy with how incompetent the seniors have been. Further not happy that although you are paid to oppose (and here you are as a group getting properly into gear) you are not adopting a more penetrating line with Council Officers – even if you need to get help from Central government. As a group, while I accept you have limited powers, you need to work harder on this aspect, because it is abundantly clear to non political animals that there has been a serious cockup on their part, and so far they seem to be going scot free. You need to do this not just to justify your political credentials, but because you need to allay any fears that as a group you are afraid of or too much power is exercised by Council Officers. You need to satisfy the residents that the Tory party here is not prepared to subscribe to Officer standards which do not meet modern day needs.

Interesting that, perhaps by accident, it was a Labour Councillor’s question which started to shine a light on the real evidence that the Officers did not have the competence.

Minutes of special meet 8 May. Mahfouz says:
We brought in a specialist external commercial team to advise throughout the whole process…
So now we know we don’t have the appropriate procurement experience in the Council.

We used a specialist internal team including officers from finance, legal, HR, procurement as well as officers from the environment team within the council to scrutinise the bids…..
No wonder Members have problems when faced with this sort of autocracy which we now know did not have the appropriate knowledge.

The numbers of rounds, details of vehicle types used for streets were shared with Enterprise. We understand that on their side staff toured the borough and visited every street ahead of commencing the contract.

This is astoundingly weak.
What he failed to say was whether the Officers checked out how Enterprise processed the info and whether he demanded that his Officers undertook that check. He just gives the strong impression that he and they passed the responsibility to Enterprise and hoped for the best.

Feedback from a senior officer within the council in relation to this mobilisation is that there has been far more member involvement………..
Does this interference mean the Officers were impeded from doing their job?

The following add to the impression that the Officers failed to follow through, before the contract started.
Q21
The Council did ask to see the contractor’s mobilisation plan
Initial draft presented to the Council in October 2011,
Q22
The contractor did have the required fleet in place at the start of the contract. Vehicles were simply supported by separate dedicated kitchen waste vehicles
Q32
Full kerbside sort was carried out at the start of the contract. During the first week however, it became clear that planned vehicle and round configuration would require review, resulting in the temporary move to a percentage of co-mingled collections.
Not true.
Q36 answer
The recurring missed collections were all the result of regrettable new contractor scheduling and supervisory failures. These have now been resolved.
Q27 made by C Costello 3 April.
All 384 staff on the TUPE lists for both Street Services and Grounds Maintenance, transferred into the new Environmental Services Contract. The Contract requires a total of 391 staff. Expressed as a percentage of the current workforce on the new contract, staff TUPEd across account for 98% of the overall staffing levels required for the Contract.
Is this a different contract to the Enterprise contract where some 500 people were transferred (Q10)?

I dread to think what the Labour party will give us when the Council drops the next big contract upon us.

George,

You make some good points.

This matter will get discussed, briefly I guess if the usual form is any guide, at cabinet next Tuesday under item 14, see here:

http://www.ealing.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/39/cabinet

I have been looking hard at the council’s report on itself and there are still quite a few holes.

The opposition will have the opportunity to call this report in and have it discussed at more length at the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Once we have gone through this process the Tory group will have to take a view as to whether we have got to the bottom of this or not. We could take the step of calling the officer(s) involved to account formally. This though takes 3,000 signatures on a petition.

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