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I have written to the Haringey Cabinet member responsible for waste (yes they have one dedicated to the task). This is my email.
Dear Councillor Canver
I have been thinking some more about this:
I received a reply to my enquiry on 1st March. It reads:
Dear Mr Essex
Thank you for your enquiry of 6 February 2011 and please accept my apologies for the delay in responding..
Haringey Council published its Contract Notice in the Official Journal (OJEU) on 29 April 2009, inviting suitably qualified companies to engage in the procurement process for the provision of the Council's Waste Management Services. Since this notice was published the Council have been engaged with suppliers and have gradually reduced the number of bidders, until the final two, Enterprise and Veolia were invited to submit their final bids to the Council in October 2010. During this period, prior to inviting final bids, all aspects of the service and contractual terms were agreed, including the Council's option of early termination in the event of unsatisfactory performance. Members have been regularly updated on progress, including formally at Cabinet Procurement Committee. See;
Sufficient time has therefore been made available to ensure thorough due diligence and a timely start to the service in April 2011.
Cabinet approved the report on the recommendation of the preferred bidder on 21 December 2010, at which point all operational considerations and contractual terms had been agreed, so the bidding had been concluded with both of the final two bidders. Although the report was not available at the point that the agenda was published, Cabinet Members were provided with copies of the report on 17 December 2010, allowing due consideration prior to the meeting.
Finally, the Council is aware that the activities of another Veolia Group company in the Middle East has attracted some criticism, to which you refer. Section 17(1) of the Local Government Act 1988 requires that when considering whether to exclude persons from being invited to tender for contracts, local authorities should exercise their functions without reference to matters which are non commercial matters. Under section 17(5) (c), non commercial matters include "the location in any country or territory of the business activities or interests of, contractors". I have also attached a statement from the Chief Executive of Veolia, providing further clarity.
I hope that this response satisfies the concerns that you have expressed.
Cllr Nilgun Canver
Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods
St Ann’s Ward Councillor (Labour)
River Park House
225 High Road
Tel: (020) 8489 2626
Fax: (020) 8881 5218
I have responded to this further information:
Dear Councillor Canver
Adrian, thanks for doing this on our behalf...
In my experience whenever the term 'preferred bidder' is used - a great more digging is called for!
See, Firoka was the preferred bidder to get Ally Pally. If I am not mistaken this public asset was to be exchanged for a mere £1.5 million - the price of a large family home in Crouch End... Good job some of us woke up before it was too late...
Haringey seem to have 2 types of bidders when it comes to flogging public assets 'The highest bidder' and 'The preferred bidder' the later usually means the bidder is set to get it on the cheep in return to few empty promises never to be fulfilled.
I wonder what it means in this case?
Did you check who is on the board of directors?
Check this out - there might be a bigger picture here
I just got wind of this today from a local and concerned resident
This week I met an officer of Haringey Council, to talk about the process leading to the signing of this new contract. This gentleman very kindly gave up an hour and a half of his time to talk to me, when there is less than a fortnight to go before the new contract starts, and he must be quite remarkably busy. Councillor Lyn Weber the LibDem spokesperson on Environment also gave up her time to attend.
Lesson number 1 - If you are exercised about something the council has done or is doing, a letter/email to the relevant Councillor may very well get you such a meeting. I like to think that my emails were well reasoned and well founded, which I guess would also help.
My original complaint is set out (at some length) here (OpinioN8). Essentially, that Haringey had fouled up the project, a conclusion I reached by reading the minutes of meetings I was directed to by officers. Based on my re-reading of those minutes I believe my conclusion was understandable. A reference in the minutes to a hold up due to "necessary consultations" simply means that legal and finance were a bit slow signing it off, not the much more damaging interpretation I placed upon it, and a news release in January 2011 states that a contract has yet to be finalised.
The difficulty of reading the minutes is threefold:
Neither of these last two points does anything for the currently fashionable goals of openness and transparency.
Yesterday's meeting revealed some additional information that was not clear from the LBH website. The original deadline for completing the project (through to signature) was "by autumn ". A news release on theLBH website in January 2011 implied that negotiations over the contract were still not complete - hence my concern. I have now been told that every detail of both the winning and the losing bid and contract had been determined by October 2010, well in time for an orderly handover in April 2011. Re-reading the minutes of December 21st (point 7.13 and 7.14) I can see that it was the case that the competitive dialogue with the competing bidders was complete by 10th November, by which date all the details had been finalised.
Lesson number 2 - have a large pinch of salt handy when reading Councillors' press releases.
I also learned something of the "competitive dialogue" process by which the terms of the contract are agreed. The process still begins with Haringey's writing a specification, but from then on there are dialogues between Haringey on the one part and each of the bidders on the other, in the course of which there is some give and take, and an achievable result emerges. These dialogues are carefully compartmentalised, so that none of the bidders ever learns what any of the others are agreeing to. I am assured that this puts the power firmly in Haringey's hands.
The result of all this negotiation is said to be a "good" contract, in several senses.
It is good in that :
It is that last that point to which we turn for proof of all that I have written here. During my meeting I was given convincing verbal assurances that all was not only much better than I had feared, but, actually, good.
Lesson number three - a variation on something I think Sam Goldwyn said "Verbal assurances are not worth the paper they are printed on", but I look forward much more optimistically than I did before my meeting, to reading the reports of the Partnership Board on just how well things are going. I understand too that further relevant factual statements will be published on the Haringey website.