£40 million Veolia Waste Contract investigation will not be held in public
The Council set up an Overview and Scrutiny Waste contract Task and Finish Group to investigate the Veolia Waste Contract Fiasco, which led to thousands of homes NOT having their waste collected from the kerbside
The Terms of Reference and Rules for the task group are as follows:
1. To review the operation of the new Waste and Street Cleansing Contract with a focus on the route optimisation project (new collection routes started on 10/5/21).
2. To invite Veolia Senior Management to the task & finish group meeting to be set up during July 2021.
3. For Veolia to present detailed plans to recover service levels to the contracted standards for –
a. Refuse/Recycling/Food Collections
b. Assisted Collections
c. Communal Bin Collections
d. Garden Waste Collections
e. Street Cleansing
f. health and safety
g. environmental risks
4. To consider the council response in terms of a. contract management, b. customer services response c. complaints handling.
The Task Group is made up of the following Cllrs:
Each of them made clear they want the investigation to take place in the open for the sake of transparency and openness. However, both the Chief Exec & Head of Paid Service for Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Dr Susan Priest and Amandeep Khroud, the Council’s solicitor have both said this cannot happen.
“ ……more reputational damage” than the obsession with concealment etc already has caused?
Am I surprised by Dr Priest’s disdain for public accountability or the fact that Amandeep Khroud is prepared to aid and abet her boss in trying to facilitate a cover-up on the grounds that the Council’s constitution won’t allow for an enquiry to be held in public. If they want to restore public trust and confidence they should be prepared to change the rules to permit a public enquiry.
If they do not, I (and many others) will only conclude that their refusal to do so is because the facts (if they came into the public domain) would be deeply embarrassing for certain councillors and senior officers. This debacle has already rebounded to the detriment of Dr Priest in her recent job hunting.
As I have said before, most residents are not interested in the minutiae of local government. They just want to get on with their lives, pay their bills and receive decent services in return.
Unfortunately, this is a Council which charges the highest Council tax in Kent and provides “rubbish” services in return. What is more, residents can see with their own eyes that they are being ripped out royally by Councillors, Officers and 3rd party contractors who are unable to perform their duties and functions with any degree of competence.
What Shepway Vox should continue to probe is whether or not the Council’s inability to manage the contract has been caused by their over-reliance on temporary and contract staff? In many cases they have replaced more experienced staff whose services have been terminated and who to add insult to injury have then been made to sign non-disclosure agreements to prevent the truth about what is going on from coming out.
Keep up the good work.
I consider that it is also worth reminding our elected representatives who are investigating this sorry debacle that one of the champions of openness in local government was the late Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher.
Her first major act as an MP was to bring forward a Private Members Bill to prevent Councils from excluding the press from their meetings. It was ultimately enacted as the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960. Further details can be found in Charles Moore’s official biography of Margaret Thatcher – Volume 1 – Not for Turning – pages 146-153.
And Eric Pickles’ The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 – although there’s probably a clause in very small print that says “These regulations do refer to Folkestone and Hythe District council not now not ever “