Stroud Green Party has today revealed that Shirehall has failed to adequately protect and secure Gloucestershire County Council’s (GCC) contract with incinerator company Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB). By way of a simple and legal routine, familiar to children across the globe, the redacted figures in the Javelin Park Incinerator Contract can be easily seen.
Cllr Simon Pickering said “GCC have been paying top lawyers nearly £200,000 to withhold this information from the anti-incinerator campaigners for months. Yet all this time the redacted figures were easy to see by anyone in the world with access to the internet, standard software and just a few clicks of their mouse: no hacking, no cracking of passwords, just everyday procedures carried out by billions of people everyday.”
“This is really rather serious, in the county which is home to GCHQ, and which is wanting to develop its IT Security economy, it seems almost unbelievable that such an error should be made. This contract is now effectively in the public domain. It was online in an insecure form from August last year. Anyone who downloaded a copy before that date has all the information it contains. Competitors, campaigners – would all be able to see these numbers. Removing it from the website is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.”
Green County Councillor Cllr Sarah Lunnon said “This information should never have been withheld, but to redact it in such a slap-dash manner points to a critical lack of staff and security at Shirehall. This major breach demonstrates the impact Tory cuts are having on the ability of our local authority to govern, to undertake even routine administrative tasks. This really brings into question the ability of the Conservative led County Council to manage such complex contractual negotiations, and undermines any claims that this contract is value for money”
She finished “If this contract had been visible from the start, in line with Government Policy, we could have had an informed debate on a better contract. Instead it appears the industry has run rings round the Tory cabinet”.
Rachel Smith, Green Party Candidate for Minchinhampton said “Across Europe we can see incredible recycling rates achieved, over 80%, yet top Tory County Councillors are secretly locking us into an expensive, outdated contract with guaranteed profits to incinerator builders, UBB. The incinerator contract locks us into burning rather than recycling rubbish. The only people this contract helps are the backers and shareholders of UBB. I think anyone who looks at the un-redacted contract will see the enormous waste of taxpayers’ cash going up in smoke – and understand why the Tory establishment are so desperate to keep their financial incompetence hidden from the people of Gloucestershire”
Eva Ward, Green Party County Candidate for Stroud Central, said “It makes me so angry that this contract was withheld: it’s a bad deal for recycling, a bad deal for tax-payers and a bad deal for Gloucestershire. To over-pay so much on waste and protect company profits while cutting children’s services by £6 million is the product of a flawed system”.
1. GCC have paid Evershed LLC – the lawyers representing GCC in their Freedom of Information crusade to with-hold information – £197,576.41 between October 2015 and August 2016. This would seem not to include the subsequent six days spent at court in October and December 2016.
2. Stroud District Green Party has, along with Glosvain, long called for the Incinerator Contract to be made public.
3. 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.