FOI Disclosure Log
25 January 2021
Freedom of Information Requests.
Business case for chargeable Brown Bins Service.
Contractual parameters for Street Cleaning and local area maintenance, Stanstead Abbotts.
I recently wrote to Mr. Richard Cassidy (copy attached) about the proposed charging of residents for a service that we currently pay for within our Council Charge. Mr. Ellis did not favour me with a reply.
I understand that a meeting of Councillors recently approved this proposal. From what I gather of this meeting it was at least questionable whether the proposal was suitable for vote, where the “saving”, if any, could not be deemed as “necessary” where Councillors had not at that time, had sight of the budget for 2021/2, thus rendering the need for savings speculation rather than reality. In my many years running businesses, I have found it best to make decisions on known information, rather than speculation of outcomes.
However, “democracy”, such as it is in Local Government (highly questionable!) has cleared a path forward. It is now important that we review the outcome against what was anticipated, such that in (say) two years’ time we can understand any variance between what has by then happened, and what is currently expected. This will determine whether the exercise has been a success, or a failure. In the latter case one would expect the decision to be reversed, and those who promoted the exercise might reasonably be reviewed to determine whether they made a one-off error, or if it was one of many whether they might better be engaged doing something else. Or that is what would apply in an accountable commercial world, anyway.
To make an assessment, one has, of course, to review the outcome against the costed business plan, in terms of financial outcome, and assess the “soft” issues such as the increased fly-tipping we know, or at least expect will occur, and the costs of dealing with that. This requires the plan to be available for proper scrutiny.
I am advised by my local Councillor, Mr. Joseph Dumont, that such a plan was made available to the meeting, including a spreadsheet of possible cash-flows against different uptake scenarios, but that it is “restricted” such that he cannot release it to me – or anyone outside of Councillors or (presumably) Council Officers.
Where it may be deemed to be in The Public Interest to openly understand the outcome of this exercise, I am sure(?) a report will be published in due course. To properly assess this, it will of course, be essential to test it against the original assumptions – which must therefore be made known and available to interested parties. Accordingly, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I would like a copy of the Business Plan, spreadsheet(s) and minutes of meetings specifically discussing the development of this project.
Secondly, Stanstead Abbotts in general, and the Lawrence Avenue area in particular, has for many years been subject to a lower standard of maintenance in terms of attention to trees, over-grow hedgerows rendering paths unusable, un-cleared gutters and drains, and dangerously slippery paths through uncleared leaf-fall than might be deemed suitable – or even essential for Health and Safety reasons. I have engaged with The Council on a number of occasions, sometimes with an outcome in terms of remedial action, sometimes not. I understand that the activities described are either wholly or in part, undertaken by contractors.
There are two aspects to this. Firstly, are the contract parameters (if external) or internally set standards suitable, and secondly, are the defined parameters being fulfilled. Neither of these points can be assessed, unless the parameters are known. Accordingly, and again under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please provide a copy of the external contractual arrangements for road/pavement/grounds maintenance as defined above in Stanstead Abbotts, or internally determined standards where in-house, along with reports of the checking activities by which such have been monitored and associated reports arising.
19 February 2021
Thank you for your request for information, this has now been processed and the information that we hold is enclosed.
Please find enclosed a document with relevant information
If you have any queries or complaint about the processing of your request please do not hesitate to contact me.
Alternatively for more information on the Freedom of Information Act contact the Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioners Office
Telephone 0303 123 1113
It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all correspondence related to this request.
Thank you for your request.