3 February 2017
Green Party analysts, who have been studying an un-redacted version of the Tory County Council’s secret contract with UBB to build a massive incinerator, are shocked by what they are learning.
The figures show that an extraordinary ‘anti-recycling’ pricing policy has been agreed by the Conservative county councillors. The base amount of waste – which the Council must supply to the incinerator – will be charged at a high price which is well above the going rate offered by competitors.
However, additional waste that could be avoided if efforts are put into recycling will be charged at a knock-down rate – deliberately undermining the economic case for recycling.
“This is appalling, not only is the Incinerator debacle costing taxpayers unnecessary millions, but it will also undermine our efforts to recycle more, and produce less waste”, said Cllr Martin Whiteside, Leader of the Green Party on the Stroud District Council.
“In Stroud, thanks to our District Council, which is led by a cooperative alliance that includes the Greens, we have seen a massive success with our new collection scheme. Once we were able to end the long-term contracts signed by the last Tory Administration, Stroud has increased recycling from 30% to 60%! This secret incinerator contract signed by the Tory County Council will most likely damage the great work that is being done – you couldn’t make it up,” added Whiteside.
Key financial and quantity figures in the massively complicated contract have been kept secret from Gloucestershire taxpayers, against the instructions of the Government’s own Information commissioner, not so much for reasons of commercial confidentiality but because they show what an awful deal it is for taxpayers and the environment.
Rachel Smith, who is the Minchinhampton Division Green Party candidate in the coming county council elections said “The un-redacted contract also includes extraordinary provisions for guaranteeing the profits of multi-national UBB - whatever happens – and leaves the poor Gloucestershire taxpayer to pick up the tab”.
Green Party estimates show that GCC has also spent almost £200,000 on legal fees trying to keep this contract secret.
Transparency campaigner Tim Davies, of the UK Civil Society Network on Open Government, said “This state of affairs shows exactly why contracts should be open, so that they can be properly scrutinised. Transparency is even more important for massive Public Private Partnership contracts like the one for Javelin Park. The Council taxpayers have a right to know what their money is being spent on and what long term contracts are being signed in their name. Transparency means better scrutiny, better contracting and better government."
1. GCC have paid Evershed LLC - the lawyers representing GCC in their Freedom of Information crusade to withhold information - £197,576.41between October 2015 and August 2016. This would seem not to include the subsequent six days spent at court in October and December 2016.
2. Cllr Sarah Lunnon's Motion 783 to Council 7th December, called for all future contracts to be made fully public without redactions. GCC's constitution committee, to which it was referred, agreed to set up a working party to look at implementing the procedures called for in the motion. If adopted by GCC this would result in Open and Transparent Contracting at Shirehall. Commercial companies would tender for County contracts on the basis that the winning contract would be publicly available.