Thursday, 23 February 2017

Duffy condemns 'folly' of failed Kingdom littering contract

In an email to fellow councillors, Cllr John Duffy, has raised key issues about the Kingdom littering contract, LINK which he expects to be officially deemed a failure by officers:
I am sure you are aware about the way the Issuing of the £80 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) contracts was given to a company by "word of mouth" tendering. I am sure you remember my objections at the time because the contract showed complete disregard to Equal opportunities, VFM [Value for money] and the terms and conditions of excising agreed staff /posts. The officers also failed to make any attempt to negotiate and allowed to company to collect £46 for every FPN issued by them whether they were paid or not. 

It's clear now a March report to cabinet will say the contract has not been successful and costs too much and will try and cancel the contract. Unfortunately the contract will have cost us over £100k, which could have been spend on other enforcement activities or environmental improvement. It seems crazy to me that when Brent is now identified as the sixth worst Local Authority for fly tipping in the country. Which is an all time low. So Instead of dealing with fly tipping we gave this private contract over £202K (Brent received £27K) to issue 4000 PFN to fag -butt litter outside tube stations and Bus stops. This contract was the lead members folly (which we will all have to pay for ) and was against my advice and costings at the time. 

I asked the CEO to carry out an independent investigation, but she has refused. However she did release information to me about income from the contract. The information shows we have paid £11k for 160 tickets that were written off by the council because of reasons like they were issued to the incorrect address or incorrect person. The 160 includes 25 that were written of because the person had Mental Health Issues.  

Firstly let me thank the council officer who did not send these 25 cases for prosecution (presumably after seeing the CCTV) and saved Brent council the shame of taking people who have Mental Health issues to court. However in our efforts to maximise the profits for the private company , we still paid them £46 for every ticket issued including the residents with Mental Health Issues.

In my opinion this payment was not only morally wrong is was also illegal. In the report that was sent to both the Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee in part 4.10 of the report under responsibilities to be undertaken by the contractor , they were not to issue them to persons under the age of 18 or those suspected of suffering from mental health issues.

I am asking the CEO and head of legal to confirm

(1) Is the payment to the contractor legal, if so why.
(2) if not what steps are they taking to redeem the money. 
(3) What penalty will the contractor pay for issuing tickets to persons with mental health issues.

I am also concerned many more FPNs were have been given to persons with Mental health issues , but were paid by them. I believe we should review all the CCTV evidence ( whether they paid or not) as the % of mental health cases in the non payers is approx. 15%,. If that is reflected in paid tickets it could be as high as 500 tickets which were wrongly issued.

I hope the CEO and Legal officer will treat this issue with the importance it deserves. I believe the CEO should get back to all council members ensuring them the issuing of FPN to persons  with Mental Health Issues has stopped.

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