Deputation - award of the contract for Public Realm Services
The Executive received a deputation from Mr Martin Francis (Brent and Harrow Palestine Solidarity Campaign) who spoke against the proposal in the report from the Strategic Director, Environment and Neighbourhoods to award the Public Realm contract to Veolia ES (UK) Ltd because Veolia was said to be complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestinian Territory, a moral position.
He referred to past promises that the council would pay greater heed to the concerns expressed by residents and a lack of transparency in the decision making process. Referring to the petition submitted to the meeting of the Executive in August, Mr Francis regretted that he had only recently received a formal written response. He questioned the fairness of the procurement process alleging the submission of misleading information and regretted that a request for extra time by a second bidder had not been acceded to, resulting in only one bidder being under consideration. Mr Francis urged the Executive to extend the existing contract for a year, that parks and ground maintenance should be separated and support given for an in-house bid.
The Executive heard from Mr Dan Judelson who felt that the council had a responsibility to ask questions about companies that would be in receipt of council tax payers’ money and alleged that one of the bidders Veolia derived income from illegal activity. He regretted that a company such as Veolia should be a recipient of council tax payers’ money. Mr Judelson reminded the Executive of the long term impact of Israeli settlements declared illegal since 1968 under international law questioned why this was not a consideration in the procurement process. Should Veolia be appointed, Dan Judelson called on the company to divest itself from alleged illegal activity.
Councillor Lorber (Leader of the Opposition) reminded the Executive that he had wished to raise this issue at a recent meeting of the Full Council but it had been ruled out of order. He expressed concern at the absence of competition in the procurement process which had resulted in the process going ahead with fewer than the six bidders in contrast to views expressed on competition at the recent Labour Party Conference. Referring to the detail of the contract, Councillor Lorber made reference to the requirement for residents to place bins close to the kerb which, in his experience, discouraged the contractor from returning them to the correct household and caused inconvenience. Councillor Lorber also expressed concern at the intention to have banded collection times in town centres and felt this would have an adverse effect on people who went to work during the day. He also felt that environmental promotion should be the responsibility of the council as policy maker, not the contractor.
Councillor Hashmi referred to the burial ground at Carpenders Park Cemetery and urged the Executive to ensure that it was well maintained under the contract and treated with respect. Gaynor Lloyd (Sudbury resident) expressed concern at the reference in the report over plans for environment promotion and pushing education through schools and expressed a wish for these campaigns to not be badged as Veolia initiatives but from the council. The Executive also heard from Aisling MacSweeney who urged the Executive to defer a decision on the new contract, to extend the existing one for a year and thereby allow more time for concerns to be resolved.