Westminster’s Mike More gets slap in the face from EU Commission

In November The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) asked Westminster’s Chief Executive, Mike More to go back to Westminster’s legal team headed by (Peter Large) to write up an explanation for the European Commissioners regarding a complaint made to them. The complaint centres around the setting up of  framework contracts for the Westminster Council led quango Partnerships in Parking (PiP).

PiP was the brain child of second in command at Westminster Council Alastair Gilchrist and Councillor Danny Chalkley. The main idea behind PiP was to cut down the amount of tendering Councils had to do when awarding contracts. But PiP expanded beyond its seven original members, inviting other boroughs to join them if they paid PiP a percentage of the turnover on contracts.

One early PiP contract winner was Verrus who supply the Pay By Phone technology behind Westminster’s unpopular scooter and motorcycle parking tax. Unfortunately Verrus’s eyes became too big for their belly, when they started asking new members of PiP to try them out (view Verrus letter here), and if it all went well there was no need for them to do one of those pesky tenders, they could just sign up with Verrus no questions asked. But the inevitable letter leaked out.

PiP made no secret of the fact that they wanted to expand right across the UK, with all other UK local Authorities welcome to join PiP and use Verrus, again without any need to tender. So what of the other Pay-by-phone companies in the UK and Europe, they wouldn’t get a look in until at least 2015. This is in clear violation of EU directives, hence the EU complaint, it’s also monopolistic and anti competition hence the Office of Fair Trade investigation who are also having a hard look at PiP.

So what did the EU commission think of Mike Mores reply. We understand his reply to the European Commission is wholly unsatisfactory. He will be given eight more weeks to come up with something more believable for the Commission, or they will take the UK Government to the European Court. Well that doesn’t say very much for Peter Large’s legal department, perhaps he should go back to playing board games. You see Peter Large had a brief break from taking the taxpayers pounds, as a professional chess player.

Although responsibility for this mess rests with Westminster City Council, it will be the UK Government which has to defend the way PiP as been run so far. Could this be why so many MP’s are keeping their heads down on this, refusing to even speak to their constituents. Because if the EU do have to take the Government to court it will be slap bang in the middle of a local and general election.

Where's Gilchrist?

Where are you Gilchrist

But MP’s are not the only ones keeping their heads down, Nutsville has heard that the original 7 PiP members have been told by Alastair Gilchrist to stop using those dodgy framework agreements to award new contracts. This effectively leaves PiP dead in the water, and all that tax payers money used to set PiP up, tut tut. Alastair seems to have gone to ground, as he was due to give a seminar extolling the virtues of PiP at this weeks ParkEx exhibition. ParkEx press office told us that Alastair’s seminar was cancelled only the day before he was due to take the stand. This might all just put a bit of a dent in Alastair’s two main goals in life, to be Chief Executive of Westminster Council and to get a Knighthood.

We will never know what the merits of PiP were now

We will never know what the merits of PiP were now

Nutsville says beware the ides of march Westminster Council, as they still plan to go ahead with their slap up feeding frenzy next Tuesday. As the good ship Barrow sinks deeper into the mire. All we hear from the Council leader Colin Barrow this week is that he sourly wished his opposite number Paul Dimoldenberg a “miserable” 60th birthday. So Cllr Dimoldenberg gave Cllr Barrow a nice money saving tip in return. If the bike parking tax was scrapped, all the residents of Westminster could have £10 knocked off their parking permit fees. That’s if the Councils latest figures are true that the bike parking tax is losing £430,000 per year. Perhaps Cllr Barrow is too preoccupied wondering nervously when we are going to do THAT story. Don’t worry Colin, it’s coming.

Related stories:

Westminster Council’s parking department faces EU probe


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4 Comments

BanditMarch 5th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Bloody hilarious! Thanks for the update, Nutsville!
So Ali G bottled it at ParkEx! Ha, not so smug now are you, ya feckwit!

They just wouldn’t listen, thought we’d go away and swallow their plans to further extort members of the public, but they didn’t reckon on bikers with balls.

Strategic Director? Couldn’t direct a stream of piss into a pond.

Shame that Chalky’s excuse selection method is only a metaphor. Otherwise, a dart could ricochet and put him out of his (and our) misery.

PiP PiP, toodle-oo, farewell and fuck off.

[...] Westminster’s Mike More gets slap in the face from EU Commission ANY_CHARACTER_HERE [...]

McMillanMarch 6th, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I notice that Westminster Council say they have done nothing wrong, great, keep going down that road then. I look forward to them being brought to court because everyone knows in the UK that politicians and Civil Servants cannot be believed.

And when they loose we shall expect More, Chalkley, Gilchrist and Large to do the decent thing and resign without any golden handshakes.

[...] Verrus then went on to offer their services to other councils who were not in fact members of the Westminster led quango Partners in Parking (PiP). Not only offering their services but blatantly stating they would not need to tender, this is all highly illegal (see: Mike More gets slap). [...]

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