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.

No MT bins today till the snow has gone away

Some parts of Stoke on Trent have not had the bins emptied today and probably the rest of the week due to the problem of accessing the side streets which have not been gritted. I have been complaining to officers of the city council for a number weeks asking them for grit bins to be placed in strategic areas on the housing estates in my ward the response I received was we have not got the funding to supply or fill the grit bins.

We now will have to find the resources for extra bin collections to clear the rubbish that will build up that could not be collected I envisage the sight of black bin liners ripped open or over flowing wheelie bins causing rubbish to be strewn on our streets (I thought those days were gone) is this the economics of a madhouse?. I suggest that if these grit bins had been filled and sited as requested the residents themselves would have used the grit to spread onto the pavements and roads that they know are difficult to access when there is snow and ice about, the council is suggesting to cut gritting by £100,000 in future budgets how can we cut funding when there is insufficient funding available for this service already.

The answer given to me by officers was that only bus routes are gritted well how on earth do we expect the residents to get to the bus stops in the first place to go to work or visit the shops when the pavements are so full of ice.

How do the emergency vehicles gain access to our estates and side streets to get help to sick and our elderley people especially when cars have become stuck .There needs to be a new way of thinking by our council officers to look at the bigger picture instead of just looking at how much money can be saved from a departments budget money can be saved in the long run by a little thought in the first place.

I know gritting is not always the answer but if we provide help in the communities with full grit bins it can alleviate some of the problems caused by the severe weather.

Mick

Services continue despite wintry weather

Bin collections have resumed today (Wednesday) as road gritting crews continue to work round the clock to tackle severe wintry weather conditions

Stoke-on-Trent City Council waste collection crews were out this morning making their usual collections, where possible, after rounds had to be suspended yesterday due to the wintry weather.

The cold snap is expected to continue for the next few days so residents are being asked to put their bins out as usual for collections to be made where possible. Waste collections are then expected to continue as usual next week, and residents who don’t have their waste collected this week can put extra waste out for their next collection date. Residents need to ensure they put the correct coloured bin out for collection, and extra waste should be put in black bags at the side of the bin.

Councillor Brian Ward, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We have experienced severe wintry weather for a number of weeks now and the prolonged cold conditions are exceptional.

“Council teams are working very hard to ensure public services continue to be delivered during this time.”

No closures have been reported of the city’s libraries or museums. Transport for social services users is operating as normal. Work is also continuing as normal at Carmountside crematorium and the city’s nine cemeteries.

The council’s mobile library has been cancelled today because of the snowy conditions. It had been due to visit Sandford Hill, Saxonfields and Weston Coyney.

The following Stoke-on-Trent schools were closed as of 11am today:

Abbey Hill Special School
Carmountside Primary School
Goldenhill Primary School
Heathfield Special School
Hollywall Primary School
Kingsland Primary School
Northwood Infants School
Our Lady & St Benedict RC(A) Primary School
St Josephs RC Primary School
Stoke Minster CE Primary School
Thistley Hough High School
Whitfield Valley Primary School

COUNCIL LATEST: – Bin collections and minor roads affected by severe wintry weather

Bin collections have today (Tuesday) been suspended in Stoke-on-Trent, as road gritting crews continue to work round the clock to tackle severe wintry weather conditions.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council waste collection crews will look to make their usual rounds tomorrow, however, with more snow predicted, residents are warned that collections may be suspended for the next few days.

Residents are asked to put their bins out as usual during this period for collections to be made where possible. Waste collections are expected to continue as usual next week, and residents who don’t have their waste collected this week can put extra waste out for their next collection date. Residents need to ensure they put the correct coloured bin out for collection, and extra waste should be put in black bags at the side of the bin.

Council road gritting crews worked until 6.30am this morning (Tuesday) to clear major and minor roads. They spread 70 tonnes of grit overnight. Crews are also working throughout the today, and gritters have been fitted with snow ploughs.

Primary routes ““ A and B roads ““ are being targeted today, and bus companies have been alerted that some of their routes may be affected.

Councillor Brian Ward, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We have experienced severe wintry weather for a number of weeks now and the prolonged cold conditions are exceptional.

“Council teams are working very hard to ensure public services continue to be delivered during this time.

“Gritting crews are keeping city roads clear as much as possible. A delivery of grit is expected this afternoon which will mean we will have enough supplies for five days if it doesn’t snow and two days if it continues to snow. We are constantly looking at securing more supplies.

“Many other councils in England are in a similar situation with low supplies of grit, and are awaiting further deliveries.

“We urge all road users to travel with care, to avoid side roads where possible and to allow extra time for their journeys.”

The council’s mobile library has been cancelled today because of the snowy conditions. It had been due to visit Penkhull, Meir Park, Lightwood and Etruria.

No closures have been reported of the city’s libraries or museums. Transport for social services users is operating as normal. Work is also continuing as normal at Carmountside crematorium and the city’s nine cemeteries.

The following Stoke-on-Trent schools have closed today:

Abbey Hill Special School
Abbey Hulton Primary School
Ball Green Primary School
Bentilee Nursery School
Birches Head High School
Burnwood Nursery School
Burnwood Primary School
Carmountside Primary School
Goldenhill Primary School
Greenways Primary School
Grove Junior School
Heathfield Special School
Holden Lane High School
Hollywall Primary School
Mill Hill Primary School
Mitchell High School
Northwood Infants School
Norton Primary School
Our Lady & St Benedict RC(A) Primary School
Packmoor Primary School
Smallthorne Primary School
St Luke’s CE Primary School
St Margaret Wrd RC High School
St Mary’s CE Primary School
Stoke Minster CE Primary School
Whitfield Valley Primary School