Saturday 26 March 2016

Brent out-sourced Dumping & Litter Patrols called-in for Scrutiny and some vital questions

Bath time at Randall Avenue, NW2
The Scrutiny Committee will consider the proposal for uniformed patrols to provide on the spot fines for environmental offences such as litter, dog fouling, fly-tipping, spitting, fly posting and graffiti at problem areas across Brent at its April 5th meeting.

Although  the 12 month contract to  Kingdom Security was approved by Cabinet the proposal has come in for criticism on several grounds, the most important of which are:
·      The terms, pay and conditions of the people who will work on patrols, and their relationships to officers working on enforcement currently working in the Council
·      The lack of consideration of an in-house option
·      The process by which Kingdom was chosen as a partner for the trial period
·      Some of the costings contained in the report 
  The Kingdom Security Enforcement Officers would be paid £9.40 per hours for a 40 hour week which would include weekend and evening work. Working pay out at 52 weeks a year this comes to £19,552 for each operative plus extra if one is a foreman. The current Council Waste Enforcement Officers employed by the Council are on  £31,360-£33,660 a year. The former, despite being on slightly above the London Living Wage of £9.40 an hour, will be worse off than similar employees whose jobs have been cut , as well as well below  the rate (and working conditions etc) of the Council’s own employees.

The Council Officers to justify this on the grounds that the roles are different:
The Waste Enforcement roles attract a salary of Pay Scale PO1 (currently £31,368- £33,660); however, these directly employed officers undertake very different work. They use investigatory powers to administer enforcement cases through the formal process right up to and including representing the council in court, which accounts for the higher job evaluation outcome. 
The work that Kingdom is being asked to do is very much intended to complement and not replace the work of the existing in house team, who do not have the capacity, and are not equipped to carry out pro-active litter enforcement patrols. 

The Officers’  Report admits that no job evaluation has been done for the out-sourced workers so it is hard to see how a comparison can be made.

The failure to consider an in-house option is justified on the grounds that this is a 12 month pilot project and has less risk attached than if the operatives were directly employed by the Council.  They also rely on the claimed  positive experience of Ealing Council with Kingdom. 

However, this does not directly answer the general local government principle, which the Council enforces on schools for example, that three bids should be sought for contracts. This has not been done by the Council which instead went straight to Kingdom.

The costings assume the employment of 4 operatives issuing  5 Fixed Penalty Notices each per day for which the Council will pay Kingdon £46 per Notice.  Thus, as the FPNs will be for £80 each the sum is not equally shared between the Council and Kingdom. On the basis of 5,200 FPNs annually this gives Kingdom an income of £239,200. Equivalent to £60,000 per operative before wages and other costs - not a bad return. However, an additional report to Scrutiny Committee suggests that there will also be a supervisor and admin staff.

This is not the end of the matter however as it is assumed, based on the Ealing experience, that only 70% of the fines will be paid. Kingdom will receive £46 for 100% of the Notices but Brent Council £34 for only 70% pf them.  This gives a total income of 3,460 Notices (70% of total) x £80=£291,200.

Once Kingdom has been paid its £239,200 this leaves Brent with £52,000.

Scrutiny will need to consider whether this represents Best Value for residents, the issue of what will be done to recover the 30% of unpaid Notices, and whether an in-house solution will be considered after the 12 month pilot period and indeed what Kingdom's reaction will be to a move to in-house if they have successfully delivered the contract.

Scrutiny may also be interested in looking at the wider costs in the contract for Brent Council in terms of the support they are offering which presumably will come out f the £52,000, as well as what appears to be additional Kingdom staff (admin support and senior supervisory officer):

The typical responsibilities to be undertaken by both the council and by the contractor are set out below:

·      Provide authorised officer identity cards to all Enforcement Officers working to the direction of Brent. 

·      Provide stationery and meet postage costs in respect of the service. 

·      Arrange for Enforcement Officers to be authorised to issue FPNs on behalf of 

·      Provide guidance as to areas to be patrolled and times of patrols. 

·      Provide workstations for administrative officers employed by the contractor 
(essentially, the Council will be required to provide an administrative base for Kingdom’s operatives at the Civic Centre. Such staff will attend on an ad-hoc basis, and such arrangements will be facilitated locally within the Environmental Services Department). Kingdom will be required to sign a licence covering any such ad hoc occupation as set out in paragraph 8.7. 

·      Manage and administer the appeals process

·      Issue FPNs to anyone caught committing an environmental offence. 

·      Provide fully trained, to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) standard, 
Enforcement Officers, admin support and a senior officer for supervision. 

·      Provide uniform agreeable to Brent. 

·      Ensure Enforcement Officers carry out enquiries to ensure accurate identity 
details have been obtained from offenders before issue of FPNs. 

·      Provide statistical information and other reports, including equality monitoring.  
 Not issue an FPN to a person under the age of 18 or those suspected of suffering 
      mental ill health
In addition Brent Council is considering extending the contract. The viability of this seems doubtful given the amount of littering and fly-tipping in the borough:

Once established- and if successful, the scope of the contract may be expanded during the course of the pilot to incorporate other offences, such as:
·      Graffiti and Flyposting – Section 43 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 

·      Dog Fouling – Section 3 Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1990 

·      Exposing vehicles for sale on a road - section 6 of the Clean Neighbourhoods 
and Environment Act 2005
·      Carrying out restricted works on a motor vehicle on a road - section 6 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
The Officer's report goes further to suggest other 'Added Value' benefits:
In addition to on-street enforcement, the contractor is also able to provide the following: 
·      ‘No cost’ provision of back office support and administration 

·      Trade waste and residential waste investigations 

·      Dealing with juvenile offenders and education through schools. 

·      Delivering a bolt on service aimed at investigating failures to recycle domestic 
waste correctly. 

·      Positive contribution to the reduction of street litter by intelligence-led patrols 

·      Working with the police to target other types of antisocial behaviour. 

The four enforcement officers (plus or including a senior officer) and admin support staff look as if they will be very busy.


Anonymous said...

What nonesense, and this is how Brent Council intend to increase their revenue stream. It's a clear case of
"Why keep a dog and bark yourself."

Anonymous said...

At least it will reduce litter.

Anonymous said...

Doubt it. Perpetrators will get away with and ordinary Jamal who accidentally does something will be fined.

Anonymous said...

Have been wrongly accused and fined for allegedly spitting, used to think this was a good idea....not anymore!

Anonymous said...

Agree with the above. I've seen EOs ignore real culprits, but know of others who have been done for petty things or worse been falsely accused. This is counterproductive, it just turns ordinary folk who would otherwise be sympathetic to the anti-littering cause into people with a grudge against the council.

Anonymous said...

Completely true! We got fined for leaving our rubbish out for collection in bags, exactly as Brent Council requires us. Had to waste all kinds of time before they eventually dismissed after realising how stupid they are.