More Awards For Newcastle Borough Council’s Recycling Scheme

News reaching us from our next door neighbours in Newcastle this morning, shows that Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council have been awarded a second national award for recycling.

It seems they have won the Local Authority of the Year award at the National PAWR (Plant and Waste Recycling) Awards 2011.

The Local Authority Of The Year category recognises a local authority that has developed and implemented a successful recycling and waste strategy that demonstrates an increase in recycling uptake and the innovative way waste is processed.

The council’s entry told the story of how its new service, introduced to 53,400 households, has increased its kerbside recycling rates from 27 per cent to over 50 per cent in just over a year while saving £500,000.

Winning a second national recycling award is really fantastic news. The accolade of “Local Authority of the Year” really does set us apart from other Councils.
 
This recognition is testament to the hard work being carried out in delivering this front line service but it wouldn’t be possible without borough residents, who have really taken on recycling.

As we are unfortunately aware here in Stoke-on-Trent, the recycling and waste service used by Newcastle Borough was designed to meet Government targets for reducing the amount of waste sent to be incinerated. In fact it is almost identical to the one presented to Stoke-on-Trent City Council, who ignored the report and decided to use a different system that is already struggling to meet government targets.

Waste Management & Blue Bin Purchase Issue Referred To Police

BNP Group Leader and Chair of the Audit Committee Michael Coleman has today confirmed that he will refer the issues raised in the Internal Audit into waste management to the Police.

The Audit committee yesterday agreed to accpet the Internal Audit Report and to note the letter of support from the District Auditor for the Audit findings.

There will also be an action plans to oversee the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.

”The matter has been fully investigated by the council’s internal audit team, and the district auditor has confirmed that he will not take further action. The recommendations in both audit reports have been endorsed by the council’s Audit Committee, which has also asked for an action plan to be prepared to ensure the recommendations are fully implemented. Any matters referred to the police will be matters for them.”

Cllr Coleman has commended the report and stated that in his opinion the purchase of the blue bins at £1.63million needed further investigation.

Listen to the Audio Interview with Cllr Coleman below.

Cllr Coleman’s decision to report the matter to the police has come as a suprise to members of the Audit Committee

Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice] has said that Cllr Coleman’s actions are more to do with headline grabbing ahead of the local elections.

He has questioned whether it was appropiate for the Chair of the Audit Committee to refer the matter to the police when the committee accepted the findings of the Internal audit and the implementation of its recommendations.

Cllr Sailh said that he hoped that he would make the complaint to the Police as an individual as opposed to as chair of the Audit Committee as his views were not shared by the other members.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Waste Management ““ Lessons Must Be Learned.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Audit Committee have today [Wednesday] concluded that the Authority must learn the lessons from the issues raised in an Internal Audit into the Waste Management services which led to the purchase of 84000 wheelie bins without the knowledge of any elected representatives.

The committee also moved a motion accepting the Internal Audit’s recommendations in their entirety and they also noted a letter from the District Auditor which supports its findings.

There will also be an Action Plan implemented that will ensure that officers keep elected members informed of the progress in meeting the Internal Audit’s recommendations.

4.1 It is acknowledged that many of the issues raised in this report took place at a time where the organisational structure and arrangements of the Waste Management Service was going through substantial changes; this led to a significant loss of expertise. Furthermore the staff who were in post when decisions were made/actions taken are no longer employed by the council and as a result any potential recommendations involving disciplinary action have not been made. However Recommendation 4 acknowledges that although issues have been identified within Waste Management which cannot be taken up with individuals, they highlight a need for a council-wide response. In light of the findings contained within the above report, the following recommendations are made:-

R1 That a comprehensive cost analysis is undertaken to
establish the full costs of both the enhanced recycling scheme and its predecessor. This analysis should take into account all associated costs (and revenues), for example income from saleable recyclables, achievement of savings, and costs of changing systems such as compensation arrangements. This should be reported to Cabinet and the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee at a date to be agreed.

R2 That ongoing analysis and reporting of performance against government recycling targets is maintained, including an analysis of costs in the areas under scrutiny. This must take into account known variances and the impact this may have on future performance.

R3 That a cross party working group be established to review the council’s current and future waste management policy.

R4 Building upon the implementation of the council’s accountability framework, that a mandatory training programme is instigated to all council employees to strengthen compliance with regulations, including the specific requirements of the constitution.

R5 Building upon earlier requests that reports contain accurate and timely information and are clear and transparent and have been rigorously reviewed by Legal Services, Finance, HR and contain appropriate risk management information.

R6 That appropriate succession planning is implemented immediately to ensure that information is retained and appropriate handovers take place so that there is consistency in service delivery when key staff leave. This is particularly important in the current climate.

R7 That officers are reminded that disciplinary action will be taken in cases of serious breaches of Financial Regulations and Contract Procedure Rules.

Committee councillors voiced their disappointment over the
actions of officers involved in Waste Management, the procurement of the blue bins at an unnecessary cost of £1.63million and that the WRAP report had no member involvement.

They also took the opportunity to voice their anger over the city’s governance arrangements at the time of the fiasco. Councillors, Salih, Brian, John Davies and Coleman all cited the Elected Mayor/Council Manager system as being the catalyst for officers to treat elected members as if they did not exist or were of no importance.

Labour Councillors Hill, Hamer and Dillon insisted that relationship between officers and elected members must improve especially as many officers were losing their jobs and some were being relocated to different jobs and in some cases, different departments. There was a concern that some officers were taking on new duties without the appropriate hand-over period and information.

Cllr Hill said that it was irrelevant what the relationships between officer and members was like in the past but is was essential that communication between the officer core and members improved dramatically in the future as it was essential to the relationships that councillors had with the electorate and how communities engaged with the process of the city council.

Cllr Mick Salih voiced his anger that the Internal Audit did not name any officers involved but did contain the names of any elected members that were involved at the time.

He said that it was in the public interest that the officers involved in the issues highlighted in the Audit report were named even if they had left the city council and were employed in other authorities.

I do think that there have been some failings in the decision making and procurement arrangements.
I share the Internal Audits concerns about the process leading up to the decision to change recycling arrangements in 2008. As a result the City Council is not in a position to clearly demonstrate that value for money was achieved.

He said that he supports the Internal Audit’s recommendation that “Ëœa comprehensive cost analysis is undertaken to establish the full costs of both the Enhanced Recycling scheme and its predecessor’.

The Internal Audit investigation has highlighted several procedural defects including:

“¢ Failure to secure an approved Exemption Certificate for the temporary variation to the City Council’s green waste contract.

“¢ Poor record keeping in support of the blue bin purchase.

“¢ The fact that the bins were purchased before members had approved any requirement for them.

“¢ Purchase of the blue bins was not in the Forward Plan, nor it appears were urgent decision processes followed.

“¢ The lack of clarity over the decision to abandon the first composting procurement; and

“¢ The failure to ascertain why companies who tendered on the first occasion chose not to re-tender.

Clearly this situation is not satisfactory. However I am reassured that the City Council asked Internal Audit to investigate these events; their report has been made public and agreed by the Chief Executive. I do not currently believe that there is a case for a formal audit action on my part, but I will keep developments under review as I have said above and i will take these matters into account in my value for money conclusions for the relevant years.

Pits n Pots carried out a comprehensive investigation into the Waste Management and Enhanced Recycling procedures at Stoke-on-Trent city Council and we conclude that the Internal Audit proved our concerns valid.

We went into this investigation to highlight that under the Elected Mayor/Council Manager system of Governance there was a culture among certain high ranking officers that the individuals that we, the people of Stoke-on-Trent, elect to serve us were treated appallingly and were considered irrelevant in certain instances.

We believe that this reports that the WRAP report was “Ëœburied, and its recommendations never discussed with elected members.

We believe that 84000 blue bins were purchased at a cost of £1.63 million when there was not member approval and were not necessarily required.

We believe that there were never budget savings of £1million as stated by the City council.

We also believe that under the new system of Governance and under the direction of the new Chief Executive Officer there has been a considerable move to great openness and transparency. We feel that this internal audit is evidence of that.

We would like to thank those councillors who met with us and talked to us and gave us the help and assistance to bring this matter out into the open.

Please now take the time to read the Internal Audit Report and the letter from the District Auditor which can be found by clicking the links below.

Newcastle Lead The Way Over Recycling – Stoke Bring Up The Rear!

For those who have questioned Pits n Pots motivation in raising the issues surrounding Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Enhanced Recycling and Waste Management procedures, we thought that you would be interested in reading the following article.

This article is from the Lets Recycle Website:

Recycling rates in Newcastle-under-Lyme more than doubled in the eight months after weekly food waste collections were introduced in March 2010, according to the Staffordshire council’s kerbside recycling collection contractor, Acumen Distribution.

The Northampton-based company has been running the Staffordshire council’s recycling collection contract since 2003 and began a new seven-year collection deal in February 2010. It has expanded the range of materials that householders can recycle at the kerbside to include plastics bottles and cardboard – a change introduced in April 2010

Together with an extension to its garden waste service to cover all properties with a garden, Acumen claims the changes increased Newcastle-under-Lyme borough council’s household recycling rate from the 26% recorded for 2009/10 to 55% for the period March to November 2010.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council are currently achieving just over 40% recycling.

This equated to 1,900 tonnes of food waste and 4,250 of dry recyclables being collected over the period, using a source-segregated approach, with Acumen operating nine trucks, four days a week to run the service.

The company also opened a new waste transfer station, at Burslem, in November 2009 to handle the recyclables collected. And, Acumen’s efforts were welcomed by Trevor Nicholl, head of recycling strategy and fleet services at the council.

“We have worked closely with Acumen Distribution over the past year to improve our recycling rates,” he said. “Towards these ends, Acumen has made a significant investment in specialised vehicles to enable us to expand our kerbside recycling collection service.”

Newcastle-under-Lyme’s kerbside recycling system involves householders separating dry recyclables, with sacks or bags being used for: cardboard; plastic bottles; paper; and, mixed glass, cans, aerosols and foil.

Residents can also recycle textiles using a bag, food waste in a caddy and garden waste in a wheeled bin, while residual waste is collected by the council’s in-house collections team using wheeled bins.

The food waste is then sent to the nearby Lower Ruele Bioenergy anaerobic digestion facility, which opened in May 2010 (see letsrecycle.com story) and paper is sent to UPM Shotton to be recycled into newsprint, while a spokeswoman for Acumen noted that “in the main everything is sold locally”.

The importance of the new service’s success was highlighted by Acumen’s managing director, Chris Doughty, who said: “Due to innovative recycle collection services set up by Boroughs like Newcastle-under-Lyme, the Government last month announced that it will meet the EU 2010 Landfill Directive.”

“Partners like Acumen are proving invaluable to councils as they provide local authorities with value for money and access to their extensive experience and cost-effective solutions,” he added.

The key fact regarding this article is that NULBC HAS achieved a recycling rate of 55% between March and November 2010.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council can only estimate that they MAY achieve the recycling target of 45% for 2015 and 50% by 2020.

NULBC had commissioned WRAP to produce a report at roughly the same time as SOTCC did.

The difference between the two was that Newcastle’s decision making process had FULL member involvement as opposed to SOTCC who had NO member involvement.

Elected members at NULBC were given the WRAP report, in Stoke it was buried and was never put before councillors.

Newcastle did not waste £1.6million of public money whereas Stoke duly purchased 84,000 blue bins that if elected members had had the opportunity to consider all the options of the WRAP report, chances are we would not have needed them.

NULBC are trend setting in this area SOTCC are bringing up the rear as the poor relation often does.

Cllr John Daniels has called upon the District Auditor to carry out a full investigation into this matter as he has even more concerns over certain aspects of the Waste Management and Recycling issue, particularly over the awarding on certain contracts and the price per tonne paid.

Enhanced Recycling Scheme Goes To Audit Committee

This morning Stoke-on-Trent City Council Audit Committee are sitting and will be reviewing the Waste Management Services Audit Report.

The Waste Management Services Audit Report is the internal review which was instigated after Pits n pots investigated the procurement of the Blue Recycling bins & the enhanced recycling trial.

The 25 page internal audit report, is item 7 on the agenda.

Having read through the report it seems to generate even more questions than it provides in answers. Reading the Executive Summary of the report shows that:

Officers presented a detailed report to CDB (Corporate Directors Board) & EMB briefings. Meeting minutes show that the report was discussed at length yet the final report to the EMB which was used to make the decision to move to alternate weekly collections was only 3 pages long and was lacking in detail at this point Councillor Brian Ward and others called the decision in, (a small point that Councillor Ward forgot until Pits n Pots reminded him in November).

The council requested WRAP report was never presented to the EMB so it was impossible for the EMB to to make a sound rational decision based on fact.

The report highlights that the 84,000 Blue Bins were purchased in two batches in September & November 2008, before the decision to move to alternate weekly collections was made. The report states that the identity of the officers who placed the orders is known and that the investigation has failed to find any evidence of member involvement in the purchase.

‘Misunderstandings’ between officers meant that it was never clear in subsequent reports as to how the costs of the blue bins would be accounted for.

All the officers involved in drawing up the 2007 Waste Management Strategy and proposals for enhanced recycling have now left the city council so any of the recommendations for disciplinary action can not be fulfilled.

We will report on the outcome of the Audit Committee meeting later, but based on what we have seen in the report so far, it appears that under the previous administration the council was run by the interim council leader, directors & officers with no accountability and little or no member input.

Of course recommendations have been made in the report to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Image Used under License

Pits n Pots Investigation Initiates Inquiry Into Enhanced Recycling At Stoke-on-Trent City Council

An Internal Audit Committee investigation in to the Enhanced Recycling scheme at Stoke-on-Trent City Council was unanimously voted for at this afternoons full council meeting.

The investigation was called for after Pits n Pots revealed a number of issues around the lack of information supplied to elected members when they were deciding on the best method of recycling in Stoke-on-Trent.

The following motion was moved by Cllr Mike Barnes and seconded by Cllr Mick Salih:

”Stoke-on-Trent City Council expresses its deep concern into allegations regarding our waste management services.

In particular, the allegations that councillors have been misled, reports of consultants altered and circumvention of the City Council Procurement Policy and Tendering Processes.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, therefore, shall set up an urgent independent investigation into the carrying out of its Waste Management functions over the last 3 years, in particular:

· The work undertaken by officers

· Members’ Information and Reports

· Procurement

The final report shall be submitted to the full Council meeting following completion of the report, subject to any legal/criminal proceedings that might arise being dealt with separately and according to due process.”

Cllr Mike Barnes [Community Voice] said that he was reluctant and disappointed to be moving this motion. He said that this issue was not just about waste and recycling but it highlighted an issue that went to the very core of democracy. He hit out at those officers who put misleading and incomplete information before Elected Member. He said that this issue effected those good councillors on all sides of the chamber who probably made a flawed decision regarding waste and enhanced recycling based on the mis-information supplied by a tiny minority of officers who may not even be with the council anymore. He ended by saying that this inquiry was essential and asked ‘what price democracy?’

Cllr Barnes said that he would support an Internal Audit Investigation as long as it was headed up by Council CEO John van de Laarschot. He also called for a time limit and a reporting mechanism to be implemented. He thanked Pits n Pots for their investigation and for bringing the issue out into the open.

Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice] said that this inquiry was not just about waste management. He stated that he believed it was about the processes and protocols that were essential between officers and members. He supported an internal audit under the guidance of the CEO he said he fully supported and trusted the majority of officers. He said that with the move to all out elections and single member wards coming next year that this issue had to be resolved now. He asked for the inquiry findings to go to the cabinet and then to full council. He called for the investigation to be thorough and for democracy not to be swept under the carpet.

Cllr Michael Coleman [BNP] said that he might not be around next year and so he was asking for this issue to be investigated as a matter of urgency as it could potentially be one of the most serious issues to come before the council in it’s history.

Council Leader Cllr Mohammed Pervez [Labour] Agreed that the revelations revealed on Pits n Pots were very serious and that the issues should not be swept under the carpet. He reminded the chamber that the external investigation into the Britannia Stadium issue cost the council £23,000. That investigation applauded the comprehensive nature of the internal audit and found nothing extra. He told the chamber that the council’s own internal audit was independent and he moved an amendment to the motion to call for the inquiry to be internal under the guidance of CEO John van de Laarschott.

Cllr Brian Ward [City Independents] Seconded the amendment and he reminded the chamber that it was him and his group that had first thought that there was an issue surrounding waste management and recycling. He told the chamber that the original report was very poor and that was what had brought it to their attention in the first place. ‘I don’t ever like to say I told you so…. but’ he said. He agreed that the inquiry should be carried out at speed as he was as interested in it’s findings as anyone. He reminded the chamber that this was another case of the council closing the door after the horse had bolted.

Cllr Barnes reminded the chamber that he was happy to support an amendment as long as assurances were given about how the inquiry was to be conducted. He clashed with the Council Leader over the Britannia Stadium deal inquiry and he also hit out at Cllr Terry Follows for his mind change about waste and recycling since the call in to him becoming portfolio holder with responsibility and accepting the cabinet dollar.

John van de Laarschot [Council CEO] said he was happy to give members the assurances that they were looking for over the conduct of this inquiry. He said that the audit committee would conduct their inquiry into what did or did not go wrong and that they would present their findings first to Cabinet and then to Full Council and he expected that it could be concluded within approximately 3 months.

Cllr John Daniels [Conservative & Ind All] said that whilst he had full trust in the CEO he felt that the issues raised by Pits n Pots and his own information and investigations convinced him that this was serious enough to be referred to the District Auditor. He was certain that rules and procedures were not adhered to and that councillors and members of the public deserved to know the truth.

The vote was taken on the amendment. Every councillor voted in favour apart from Cllr Daniels who voted against.

Pits n Pots have now achieved our objectives in relation to this issue. We will of course scrutinise and report on the Inquiry findings.

It was never about accusing any officer of any wrong doing. To us it was all about finding out the processes and investigating whether elected members had sufficient information and evidence on which to base their decision or invoke the scrutiny process.

To find out what,what was not, and why it was not, was presented to those who we elected to serve us.

All Articles by Mike Rawlins & Tony Walley – If you would like Pits n Pots to investigate anything, please use the contact form to get in touch, or email press@pitsnpots.co.uk

Blue Bins For The Enhanced Recycling Scheme Purchase Or Lease That is The Question

After doing some further investigation in to the Enhanced Recycling trial we have turned up yet another anomaly with the blue bins that leads us to believe the Elected Members were not furnished with the full facts when scrutinising the results of the Enhanced Recycling trial.

The EMB appear to have nodded the Enhanced Recycling Scheme through at the meeting 3 December 2008 only to have it called in by the Improving Communities Overview & Scrutiny committee on 24 December.

The O&S Committee approved the recycling trail with the following recommendations

  1. that following the train and before consideration of the rolling out of the enhanced recycling scheme, a detailed and evidence based evaluation of the trail be submitted to a future meeting of the committee
  2. that all members are kept informed of the relevant progress, reports and meetings are given formal opportunity to participate and give feedback

On 21 May 2009 the O&S Committee sat and heard the the detailed evidence based evaluation of the trial (all 6 pages of it) from Interim Assistant Chief Executive Mike Maunder and other officers.

that he had concerns with regard to the Executive Summary of the report and questioned whether the recyclable value was being maximised and why we needed to wait until the end of the year in order to ascertain the financial aspects of the scheme as he felt that an independent assessment should be carried out immediately. He felt that the decision to go down this route had been decided before the trial was even undertaken and that, even though there was no going back from this position, he was still not convinced that it was the most appropriate way to deal with the issue. He felt that a number of issues had not been given due consideration such as the cost of kerbside versus co-mingled collection and that no detailed analysis of cost had been undertaken. He asked what independent assessment of the current system had taken place and asked whether it was proposed to have one in the future.

Indicated that details of the savings etc. had been set out in the report which had been considered as part of the call-in. He indicated that it had been understood at the start of the trial that there would be a large take up but what was uncertain was the subsequent level of “tail off” that would occur. At the end of the year it would be possible to give members a better feel for that in terms of the trial areas. In addition, the other uncertainty was regarding the value of recyclables, which had therefore not been incorporated into the budget arrangements.
In response to a previous question about the costs associated with the provision of bins etc., he indicated that this had been part of a leasing arrangement and that it had been clear that as part of this agreement that, if we did not make this provision we would not have been in a position to proceed with enhanced recycling this year. If the trial had not been successful, we would have been able to recover the money for the bins because of the current national demand for them.

Which appears to indicate that he was telling the O&S Committee that the blue bins were leased rather than purchased which is in direct opposition to what Jane Forshaw said in her interview with Pits n Pots and which has been confirmed by the council, that the bins were indeed purchased.

So the question is, were to O&S committee able to make a qualified decision on the Enhanced Recycling trial without being aware of the full facts?

The O&S Committee members at the meeting were:

  • David Conway – Chair
  • Randolph Conteh – Vice Chair
  • Michael Barnes
  • Michael Coleman
  • Rita Dale
  • John Daniels
  • John Davis
  • David Sutton

The WRAP report commissioned in 2007 which was as far as we can tell ignored and not put before the EMB at the time was also mentioned in the meeting by one of the officers present.

In terms of the independent report, the national organisation WRAP had carried out a review.

Image used under license

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Enhanced Recycling The WRAP Report

The elusive WRAP report provided to Stoke-on-Trent City Council detailing different options for enhanced recycling has emerged in the public domain thanks to the work of Councillor Michael Barnes.

Tony and I will be reading this report tonight and will be publishing a more detailed article in the morning.

The report is subject to an FOI request by Pits n Pots so it will be interesting to see if that is dealt with inside the 20 working days”¦

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Waste Management ““ The Saga Continues

When I interviewed Jane Forshaw, the Head of Environmental Services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on behalf of Pits n Pots, I was impressed by her straight talking and her willingness to be “Ëœopen and transparent’.

My optimism grew further when she confirmed that she would be willing to answer any follow up or supplementary questions.

My optimism was snuffed out however when I supplied a list of questions to the Council’s press and Communication Department to be forwarded on to Jane Forshaw. They replied that the request was too “Ëœresource heavy’ and we were guided down the Freedom of Information route. This came as quite a surprise given Jane’s comments in her interview ““ that questions asked under FOI tend to be one dimensional and as such can be answered in a one dimensional fashion.

So much for openness and transparency!

Today Pits n Pots submitted the following questions under

FOI through “ËœWhat Do They Know’:

Dear Stoke on Trent City Council,

I am being asked by your Press & Communications Department to make
FOI requests to gain answers to the following questions.

1] Why was a ‘collection only’ remit given to WRAP for their report
[dated 4/3/08 ref ROT019] and not ‘collection and disposal’

2] Is the remit given to WRAP the reason that, in Jane’s view, it
was flawed?

3] The report gave various solutions, one of which was option j.
This option recommended a solution close to the process adopted by
Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council who are now achieving a
recycling rate of 50% as opposed to the current rate of 40% in
Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Were all the options put forward to
the EMB, the rest of the elected members, or appropriate overview
and scrutiny committee, for consideration?

4] In the absence of any EMB/Councillor involvement, who took the
decision to adopt the current enhanced system of recycling? Please
supply documentary evidence to support your response.

5] The composting was put out for tender twice, the first time the
tender was pulled, why was this?

6] Can I have the exact date that the ‘Blue’ Bins were ordered?
Please back this up with documentary evidence such as purchase
orders or order forms.

7] Can I have the name of the supplier of the ‘Blue Bins’?

8] Can you supply the date that the EMB gave its approval for the
scheme along with copies of the briefing pack, meeting minutes and
any documents which are pertinent to this action.

9] Did the NSRP commission an Independent report into suitable
composting sites in the City of Stoke-on-Trent?

10] If a report was commissioned please supply a copy of the
report.

11] If a report was commissioned was it taken into consideration
before placing the contract with a company from outside of the
area? Please supply evidence

12] Our current system for collecting food waste means that
potentially only 50% is collected. [once fortnightly in brown bin]

That 50% potential success rate will be further affect by the number of households that do not have the 3 bin system. Will this prevent the city achieving the government target of 45% for 2015 and the 50% target for 2020?

These questions are supplementary questions which have come to light after an interview with Jane Forshaw about the enhanced recycling scheme.

Background information on why these questions are being asked can be found here
http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/news/2010/09/stok…

and here
http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/news/2010/10/wast…

If the work required to provide answers to these questions will take you over the prescribed limit of £450, please use the context of this request but treat each of the questions, numbered 1 – 12 inclusively, as a separate request.

If one part of this request can be answered before any of the others please respond to that part without further delay, waiting until the whole request has been dealt with is not necessary.

My preferred method of receiving your response is electronically, if all or any part of this request is not able to be responded to by my preferred method, please contact me to arrange alternative delivery methods.

If you need clarification on any of the points in this request or if anything is unclear please do not hesitate to contact me as soon as you require the clarification rather than waiting until the last date that this request is due to be answered by (12 November 2010).

Yours faithfully,

I am pleased to see that Councillors from Stoke-on-Trent’s newest political group have taken the initiative on this issue.

They, like us, want to see a complete, thorough and urgent independent inquiry into the whole system of Waste Management and Enhanced Recycling.

There have already been calls for the District Auditor to launch an investigation into the department and the methods used to inform elected members and the way contracts were awarded.

The issue is as clear as a muddy puddle on a black tarmac pavement.

The following motion will go before the next Full Council
Meeting on the 21st October:

”Stoke-on-Trent City Council expresses its deep concern into allegations regarding our waste management services.
In particular, the allegations that councillors have been misled, reports of consultants altered and circumvention of the City Council Procurement Policy and Tendering Processes.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, therefore, shall set up an urgent independent investigation into the carrying out of its Waste Management functions over the last 3 years, in particular:

“¢ The work undertaken by officers
“¢ Members’ Information and Reports
“¢ Procurement

The final report shall be submitted to the full Council meeting following completion of the report, subject to any legal/criminal proceedings that might arise being dealt with separately and according to due process.”

It has been suggested we are in collaboration with third parties over this issue.

I had been contacted by sources inside the council and external of it, to tip me off that there is a suspicion that we are being used to further a HR claim against the City Council by an ex employee.

I wish to make it absolutely clear that we are working with no other individuals in the investigation of this issue and most certainly not any ex employee who may, or may not hold a grudge against the City Council.

We have used other FOI requests alongside information given from a range of sources who have a real concern about the way this whole issue has been handled.

Pits n Pots sole motivation for bringing this into the public domain is that we have real concerns that elected members did not receive the information that would enable them to make a balanced judgement on the proposals for handling the City’s waste.

We are confident that NO elected member, EMB or Overview and Scrutiny had sight of the WRAP Report dated 4/3/08 [ROT019] before the decision was made to adopt the current system of Waste Management and Enhanced Recycling.

Some may say that this is all in the past and not on the present CEO’s watch but we feel strongly that our elected members were kept out of the loop by former executive officers of the council.

We appeal to elected members on all sides of the Chamber to back the calls for an independent inquiry, to leave party politics outside the chamber door, and to do the right thing to ensure the public are aware of the full facts surrounding an issue that has probably cost much, much more than the £1million worth of savings that had been claimed.