Fury Over 'Secret Deal' on Rubbish Contract

Opposition say Ealing borough's streets and parks will get dirtier

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It's being claimed that Ealing's streets and parks will get dirtier after a new deal was rubber stamped in secret.

The borough's rubbish contract is one of the biggest spends that the authority makes each year. In April 2012 Enterprise took over from May Gurney, but the new contractor has been beset with collection problems and the Council received thousands of complaints.

Now the Council has re-negotiated the contract with Enterprise (now renamed Amey) and opposition councillors say they've been given a reduced workload. They claim this will mean cleaning the borough's parks will be downgraded and household rubbish collections - which have been missed - will take even longer to be cleared.

The contract was called in before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (which met on Thursday 13th March) but because the discussions were financially sensitive much of the information can't be made public.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm believes they've been gagged: “Labour have sold us short again. Enterprise now have the green light to leave our streets and parks less clean. Also they will be allowed more time before a missed collection is acted upon.

''The Liberal Democrats are also fuming that the money owed to Ealing Council for the huge number of missed collections will not be paid. Ealing Labour should hold their heads in shame.''

The Conservatives also wanted the matter debated more openly.

Conservative spokesman on parks, Cllr Ann Chapman, says: “This report contains an awful proposal to cut back severely on park cleaning.  This is already being done badly.  The rationale seems to be they don’t do a good enough job now, if we ask them to do less, they might achieve it.  Instead of being deep cleaned monthly it is proposed that most parks are deep cleaned annually except for a few priority sites which will be done quarterly.

“What is worse,  the confidential 'gold' papers contain a further list of reductions in parks services that we are not even allowed to talk about.   It seems the officers think they can just sign up to reductions in services without any discussion with the public.  All the while the Labour administration is hiding, hoping this will all go away.” 

Opposition Spokesman for Transport and Environment, Councillor Phil Taylor, says: '' The council and the contractor have made a deal to cut back on the level of park related services.  The confidential papers detail the cost savings involved (that will accrue to the contractor, not the council).  Whilst it may be reasonable for the financial details to be confidential we don’t think it is reasonable to withhold information about the nature of the cut backs.  We have specifically asked for this information to be divulged and it has been refused by the council’s chief legal officer.  We believe this secrecy is unnecessary and is allowing the council to downgrade our parks without public scrutiny.'' 

Ealing Council sent this statement: ''The proposed changes to the contract with Amey were upheld by overview and scrutiny last night. Details of the changes are available in committee papers on our web site

''All councillors have access to gold committee papers which contain confidential or sensitive information. Where this is the case, the council would make the reasons for the papers being confidential, clear.  In this instance they would have contained commercially sensitive financial information about the contract.''


15th March 2014