KERBSIDE - Calderdale criticised by report into Council handling of contracts and deals with SITA

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) were asked by the Council to conduct an independent investigation into the waste collection contract which was awarded to Sita UK in March 2008.

Council asked PwC in February this year to review the way in which the social enterprise element of the contract was managed, together with the handling of Kerbside and the overall procurement process.

Kerbside protest

Calderdale Council’s Chief Executive, Owen Williams, says "The report highlights a number of unacceptable issues relating to the procurement process and the judgement and decision making of a small number of Council staff. As a result it will be necessary to consider whether there are any disciplinary issues that need to be dealt with.” said Owen Williams.

“After considering the report, I also have significant concerns about the advice received by the Council during 2007 and the input of specialist officers, some of whom are no longer working with us. Therefore, as well as suggesting to Members that we accept the recommendations of the report in full, I will also be taking further legal advice on the potential remedies available to the Council.

“I will get to the bottom of what went wrong and do everything in my power to make sure this does not happen again.”

Labour group leader Cllr Tim Swift has responded: “It is clear from the Chief Executive’s response to the report into the Waste Management Contract that the Labour group was right to be concerned about the way the original decision to award the contract was taken, right to support an inquiry into the aspects relating to Kerbside and social enterprise, and right to want to see a broader inquiry into the whole way the Council handled the award of this massive contract.

“If the report provides clear evidence that either Council officers or the independent consultant have failed in their professional responsibilities to the authority, then it is right and proper that appropriate action should be taken. It was acknowledged at the time the contract was awarded that the tender accepted was not the cheapest, so it is particularly important that members have every confidence that the advice they are given by officers is robust and accurate. It is a matter of great concern to realise that this was not the case in the award of this contract.

“But it is equally important that questions are asked and answered about how Calderdale Council has been led and governed throughout this process. Everyone knew that this would be one of the largest contracts to be awarded by Calderdale Council, and one that affects literally every resident in the Borough. The purpose of the Cabinet style of local government is to give clear political responsibility for major decisions, and there will be searching questions asked in the next few days to establish just what political oversight was provided by the Conservative cabinet throughout this process.”

Commenting on the release of the Investigation into the procurement of the waste collection contract by Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, Council Leader Stephen Baines said:

“I welcome this report and thank Price Waterhouse Coopers for their work.

“It enforces our view that this Council did all that it could to ensure the use of social enterprise within the waste collection contract and made ‘significant efforts’ to bring both Kerbside and Sita together, throughout the entire process.

“The report also finds that Calderdale Council acted properly and in accordance with anti-competition guidelines in relation to Kerbside.

“To ensure that a Social Enterprise, such as Kerbside, was able to bid for an element of the waste contract, it was split into two lots.  Based on this report, it appears that there were numerous failings of the Waste Contracts Procurement Group, set up to oversee the process.

“One of the key findings of the report is that those Council Officers given the job of overseeing the negotiations made a conscious decision to not provide the Cabinet, or other elected members, with key information throughout the process. This is totally unacceptable.

“As a result of this report, I have insisted that the Chief Executive instigates an immediate investigation as part of the Council’s disciplinary procedure against any employee who has put the Council in this situation. I have also requested legal advice on whether any action can be taken against external waste consultants which were used to advise the Council during this process.

“On behalf of this Council, it is essential that all necessary action is taken to ensure those who have failed to comply with an approved and documented Cabinet and Council Procedure are held to account.”

Report in full

See also

Hebweb News: Kerbside's Paul Brannigan to fight election

Hebweb News: Wheelie bins are on their way

Hebweb Forum - Wheelie Bins

Wheelie Bin database - enter your postcode and see if you will be receiving one.

Hebweb News: Calderdale/SITA cut refuse collections to once a fortnight

Kerbside website

Hebweb News: Kerbside Urges firm action from local politicians (Jan 09)

Hebweb News: Talks break down: Sita reject Kerbside (Dec 08)

Hebweb Forum - Kerbside, what next?

Hebweb News: Kerbside: the gloves are off - report of public meeting of 29th November (Nov 09)

Hebweb Forum - Barbara Green's plea to write to Hazel Blears

Hebweb News: Halifax demonstration (July 2008)

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