Local councillor John Todd 's blog discusses the new waste and recycling service plans
Saturday 10th September
Visited the Devonshire Road vibrant street party. Wonderful colourful Brazilian brass band with dancers performing outside Tamp. Mike Moran one of the main organisers in sparkling form. Met the manager of Barclays Bank Chiswick Dacsha Panchal and her team who told me about her community project involving enhancing IT skills.
Moved on to Chiswick school where, with fellow governors, we met numerous former pupils of the Chiswick County Grammar School for Girls celebrating 100 years of memories. Tony Ryan and a large number of volunteer pupils made everyone most welcome. Speeches, tours of the school and singing of the school hymn which had eight of so verses, finishing with a cream tea rounded off a memorable event. One of the pupils mentioned that if pupils were caught not wearing the school hat on the way to school they had to wear it all day as a punishment.
During the previous week I with the help of my colleagues had successfully persuaded LBH to withdraw a cabinet single member decision direction on Heritage lighting. We acted following representations from resident groups covering Chiswick Mall, Bedford Park and Isleworth who were concerned about the ambiguity of the report and threat to the current historical street lighting rightly jealously protected over the years. With officers from our scrutiny department, we collated all the responses including some well researched submissions for later consideration by the officers now tasked to produce a report for cabinet at a later date.
Council meeting in the council chamber
A diverse Agenda. I had two items as set out below.
Councillor John Todd to ask Councillor Steve Curran Leader and Cabinet Member
“London Borough of Hounslow Green Belt and or Metropolitan Open Land at risk?
A recent REDE (Regeneration, Economic Development and Environment) Department report described the London Borough of Hounslow as wanting to be an ‘assertive developer’ – undefined but most concerning nevertheless.
The (Lampton) Property 360 Business Plan (see 1 below), in a paragraph headed Development Programme, discusses the need to find housing sites and goes on to mention the ‘release of green belt or Metropolitan Open Land’ as part of the solution.
Would the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment please explain how such land would be released?
(1) See Supplementary Cabinet Report dated 19/7/16 paragraph 4.4 page 6.”
Proposed by Councillor John Todd and Seconded by Councillor Gerald McGregor;
“This Council expresses its concern over the delays and increasing and as yet unquantified costs of introducing a new waste and recycling service in the Borough since the decision to bring the service back in-house.
This Council censures the Lead Member, Councillor Amrit Mann, and his secretive one- party 'Member Strategy on Waste' group for pursuing a strategy motivated solely by political ideology and which fails to provide or evidence best value for local residents and ignores the recommendations of engaged professional advisers.”
My green belt question was answered by Cllr Curran who, amongst other things mentioned a need for a green belt review. I'm allowed an unpublished supplementary question, so I asked him if he'd endorse the GLA Mayors comments on the need to vigorously protect the green belt and metropolitan open land and ensure that our local plans reflect that approach. He did.
The motion I submitted reflects my frustration on how this Labour administration has, and continues to deal with, the awarding of a new waste contract following the expiry of the existing one at the end of October 2016. Unbeknown to our group in March 2015 they set up a Member Strategy on Waste group which met with cabinet colleagues, officers and consultants since that date. We were not invited to join, didn't see minutes nor had access to the consultants reports and related papers. I felt disenfranchised - they disagree.
The consultants engaged by LBH were very good. They identified that LBH had limited expertise in this field and in exploring the diverse contractual options available provided sound advice backed by researched data. It's now clear that this administration always wanted and has subsequently brought back this waste contract in-house to be operated by another Lampton 360 company- an entity owned by LBH.
Lampton companies are designated Teckal Companies which are permitted to trade and ideally make a profit which contributes to the LBH general fund. So far the quest for profit has proved difficult. It has tied up millions of pounds of mine and your funds. Huge expenditure has been incurred and loans made in excess of £1.5 m.
The need for a new depot to process our recycling goods was recognised from the outset. Planning permission was gained earlier this year for a site near the western international market. Initial costing was circa £5m, rising to 9m three months later. In June we were told 'waiting for a figure in July'. Currently the speculative figure is circa £18 m but not confirmed. Additional fit out costs of £1 m plus now revealed -but not quantified. Only one builder tendered for this work.
The decision to award the contract by LBH to Lampton 360 recycling Ltd was made in principle some months ago by cabinet, despite that the company wasn't incorporated until the 26th August 2016. Its sole director is the current director of the department handling the waste contract.
The consultants rightly advised that to show best value LBH should initiate some form of procurement process before awarding the contract to an in-house company. They didn't. When challenged by me in this point, Cllr Mann said the cost would have been £500k. The consultants report says £93.5k. The difference it was suggested is officer time -an explanation I don't readily accept.
Initial financial savings identified have withered. The current contract is circa £6.5m. So far LBH has identified £28m of cost with more to come. To be fair this includes a new fleet of diesel goods vehicles and other capital costs including the depot previously mentioned.
We will continue to monitor this most worrying and unsatisfactory situation.
There is no suggestion that LBH didn't observe the related procurement rules and legislation but that it could have done more to ensure it could be seen to be getting best value for residents when negotiating such an important contract.
Wednesday 14th September
Gardening under instruction from Ruth.
At Charing Cross hospital for a check up. I was telephoned by my favourite nurse Vicky who had received confirmation that all my bladder cancer had gone, post my TB culture treatment. I was, to be honest, surprised when I received this provisional news a week earlier given the earlier consultant's bleak assessment of success. A number of my relatives who I never met had moved to Blackpool to seek the fresh air to unsuccessfully battle TB yet it had eliminated my cancer. I owe a huge debt to the NHS.
In the afternoon to the Chiswick Business Park a meeting re Gunnersbury station progress, ditto the bridge to Chiswick Park tube station. Tube personnel had developed plans to reduce the danger and obstructions on the platform but need 500k to complete. The bridge funding is in place but access to the tube track has delayed construction until later 2017.
In the evening to the Leadenhall building in the City for the Open City launch in the offices of Richard Rogers the architect. He explained that he had designed this building and had then decided to move to the city. They had 14k square feet of open office with no ceiling structure in place which made the office height seem much more higher than the rest of the other offices.
Row after row of connected desk space with lots of staff with huge computer screens intently working on numerous projects. Great collegiate atmosphere. No bosses offices, a partner explained.
Up early to the Sky HQ to a meeting of the Chiswick business forumn held in a meeting room in the main building with the adjacent Sky news studio suspended on the first floor in a glass case /pod hovering over us. Greg Hands MP gave a short punchy speech on life post Brecht in his new department. Great seeing Mary Macleod again.
To the Civic Centre where we are holding an informal meeting and giving a presentation to potential Councillor candidates.
September 20, 2016