Tuesday 16 May 2017

Duffy will consider going to the police if no independent inquiry into Kingdom contract

Incentive: 'If you work for Kingdom the more you fine, the more yu earn'

Following the BBC Panorama report on the 'litter police' (view the programme HERE) Cllr John Duffy (Labour Kilburn) has called for a public inquiry into Brent Council's awarding of a contract to Kingdom Ltd, the firm featured in the programme. He will consider challenging the accounts and going to the police if there is no independent investigation.

Duffy wrote yesterday afternoon to Brent Council CEO Carolyn Downs:

It is clear the way Kingdom operate is of some concern. I believe the word of mouth contract was let without due process and was pushed through by officers and the Lead member without market testing was a mistake and  has wasted the council over £100k in income. The initial report itself was heavily biased towards the contractor, the fact that the lead member and cabinet  chose to ignore advice from me and preserve without challenging the report, does not legitimise the lack of due process that took place.

I am urging you to have a full independent investigation into the how the contract was let and how it was monitored, I believe there was no meaningful monitoring by our officers. It is clear this contract was a bounty hunting contract and often picked on the most vulnerable residents  and had nothing to do with street cleansing standards and was about securing a profit for the contractor.

Officers and lead member seemed happy to allow that situation as long as they could announce the number of prosecutions and number of litter tickets issue at full council, without any concern about the methods being used by the company. Our legal department did no monitoring on litter tickets issued and only monitored tickets being prepared for prosecution , leaving the contractor to self-monitor the issuing process.

I remain concerned that Kingdom were allowed to bid for other contracts based on recommendations of Brent officers without referral back to either Scrunity or cabinet. I believe we have been negligent and the cabinet were misled in both the letting and monitoring of the contract .

I hope you will reconsider your position not to have an independent investigation in light of the evidence about how Kingdom operate.I f however you chose not to have a independent investigation I intend to challenge the accounts ( I have copied Conrad [Hall, Brent Finance Officer] in so he can advise me of how to challenge the accounts) and will also consider going to the police. I find the loss of the £100k on the contract because of the lack of due process, the lack of documentation to ensure best value and continual word of mouth recommendation is unacceptable.

I do not need an explanation from officers, about what they did or did not do, that should be left to an independent investigator to judge whether the process of letting the contract and subsequent monitoring was adequate. However I do need confirmation that the investigation will take place. 

Clearly at the moment we are in the run -up to the national elections. However I still seek your commitment to a independent  investigation as soon as the  election has taken place.
It will not surprise regular readers to hear that Cllr Duffy was removed from the Scrutiny Committee at the recent Labour Group AGM.


Anonymous said...

Given the increased use of Wembley Stadium by Tottenham Hotspur FC, I would think there would be a sharp rise of littering in the Wembley Park area of LB Brent on Spurs matchdays at least. That might present a prospective 'field day' for Kingdom 'enforcement officers'.

But I dare say that the increased 'presence of witnesses for the defence' would make Kingdom mercenaries feel as intimidated as the innocent people on whom they threaten to call the [fake] police.

Alan Wheatley

Philip Grant said...

I applaud the stand taken by John Duffy on this issue.

As one of the local electors who has objected to Brent's 2015/16 accounts, I have sent Cllr. Duffy a copy of the National Audit Office guidance notes on how to challenge a Council's accounts, in case Brent's Chief Finance Officer is too busy to provide the advice on this.

As readers may have seen from my recent guest blog, raising objections to the Council's accounts can be a long, time-consuming and potentially expensive (for Council Tax-payers) process.

I hope that Brent's Chief Executive will have the good sense to agree Cllr. Duffy's request for an independent investigation, which should settle his genuine concerns more quickly, and potentially at less cost.

Anonymous said...

When Cllr Duffy's name come up in discussion a few weeks ago on here, there were mutterings of him being 'not a team-player'.
Exactly what's needed I'd say.

Mike Hine

Scott said...

Disappointing that Cllr Duffy was removed from the scrutiny committee. I missed that occurring.

IF politicians were members of any normal organisation, they would listen to concerns raised by others within the organisation, especially those raised by members of the same team (cough Duffy) & act upon it to make their practice more robust.

As it stands with this cabinet structure - I'm not sure the point of the majority of people who are designated 'councillors'.

Anonymous said...

not only designated 'councillors', but paid 10k a year each of our money - thats over half a million a year in total