Westminsters Scrutiny Committee not fit for purpose

On Tuesday 5 January 2010 Westminster’s Built Environment Policy and Scrutiny Committee sat down to pick a winner in the Councils £50 million parking enforcement lottery. Around the table were Cllr Angela Harvey (Chairman), Cllr Frances Blois, Cllr Nick Evans, Cllr Jonathan Glanz, Cllr Angela Hooper, Cllr Carolyn Keen and Cllr Andrew Smith.

Just so the Councillors knew why they were there Peter Nixon, the Councils principal solicitor explained to them that the purpose of the meeting was to decide to recommend to Cllr Chalkley who should win the golden parking enforcement contract. Nixon told the committee they were about to see the contestants reports, and each in turn would be putting on a show for them. He then explained that after the show they would be able to recommend to Chalkey the winner and it would all look as if the ‘evaluation processes had been conducted fairly and appropriately‘. (Download source)

What could go wrong!

One by one the three finalist, APCOA, Mouchel and NSL Services gave it their best shot, wowing the assembled members with their presentations explaining why each company was the best one for the job.

After the three presentations a warm glow filled the room as the committee decided that the ‘tendering and evaluation processes for the re-let of the Parking Enforcement contract have been conducted fairly and appropriately’.

Hurrah!

As we now know the Scrutiny Committee had chosen Mouchel as the winner. But as we also know, a little while later APCOA didn’t think the contract award had been conducted fairly and appropriately, and took Westminster to the High Court. Although Westminster Council officers were saying that there was a legal flaw, the court said the Council had acted unlawfully:

“Towards the end of the process, on receipt of complaints, Westminster came to recognise that it had indeed behaved unlawfully in a number of respects. That is why it decided to abandon the process and, having taken advice, to make a fresh start with a new one.” (download source)

Making a fresh start in this case meant moving the goal posts, which excluded APCOA from even buying a Westminster Council lottery ticket. Which is a great shame, as in the interests of balance if nothing else APCOA should be awarded the contract as they’re the only ones left who haven’t yet had a go at being told by Westminster Council they’ve won.

On 27 April 2010 it was time to have another committee meeting, but this time there would only be two bidders NSL and Mouchel to pick which one would be getting to play Dorothy and wear those glittery red shoes home.

In a scene reminiscent of Groundhog Day, Peter Large, Head of Legal Services told the committee members ‘they were about to see the contestants reports, and each in turn would be putting on a show for them. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… and in the end it would all look as if the ‘evaluation processes had been conducted fairly and appropriately’.

So off we go again, reports were submitted, presentations were made, but this time, perhaps mindful of their culpability in the shenanigans the committee concluded:

it was difficult to consider the process of evaluation of each bidder’s proposal having not had sight of the tender documentation, as well as certain financial information. The Committee therefore concluded that on the evidence available it was unable to come to an informed view on whether the tendering and evaluation processes have been conducted fairly and appropriately. ‘ (download source)

Then Cllr Angela Harvey thought it would be a wonderful idea if the scrutiny committee could scrutinise at the start of the process next time. Oh Angela why change anything, you screwed the bikers what’s wrong with screwing the parking industry?

So with not seeing the tenders and all the financial details was Angela Harvey blindfolded and spun round three times, where she was then guided by Kevin Goads steady hand to pin the tail on NSL Services donkey.

Well she might just as well have been, and saved us all £1.1 Million.

For the purposes of secrecy the public and press were excluded from both meetings and viewing the expensive reports commissioned by the Council.

In the Coalitions Programme for Government it says:

“We will require all councils to publish items of spending above £500, and to publish contracts and tender documents in full.”

But not if Westminster Council have their way.

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3 Comments

Man in the KnowMay 24th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Interestingly, I’m told that Mr Goad, in his Witness Statement against the bikers, claims that a “Report in Opposition” was presented to Cllr Angela Harvey’s Committee in March 2009. The video of that meeting confirms that Harvey refused to allow her fellow committee members to view said “Report in Opposition”, since, alas, it was too late and should have been sent a week earlier. Then, continues Goad in his statement, Harvey’s committee “after srutinising the Council’s (own) report”, thus confirming the disqualification of any Report in Opposition, “was of the opinion that the motorcycle charging scheme was reasonable.”

Nice to see that Angela Harvey, if for consistency sake, is ensuring that the current male-dominant corrupt element won’t be able to claim that they managed to upstage Dame Shirley Porter when it comes to inappropriate behaviour in Public Office.

BTW, did anyone manage to ascertain why the liquidator of shamed Council Leader Barrow records his outstanding obligation to WCC as being £68k when WCC themselves under FOI claim it to be a mere £19k? Answers on a postcard please!

MitchMay 25th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Angela Harvey should not to be trusted in this sort of decision making process. She invented a story for the media saying ““We’re always getting little old ladies who are knocked down and abused by a cyclist” but when questioned through Freedom of Information she could not back up her statement. She just made it up to try to justify the Council bringing in it’s own gang of revenue collectors.

See:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23780505-danger-cyclists-to-be-policed-by-council-staff.do

JonathanMay 25th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

The fragrant Angela is less interested in politics than her own self aggrandisement.

Like short Chalkey (now even shorter having been royally diminished by being sacked and divorced) she is a self-centred harridan with little grasp of politics and even less of an acquaintance with reality.

Whilst purporting to be a beacon of the people, a saviour and facilitator of the electorate who ushered her in, the truth is that she is nothing short of a brown nosed, weak, sycophant, the likes of whom we all hoped had been expunged many years ago.

Her voting record is lamentable. He expenses claims are laughable, her stewardship as a councillor is questionable.

Not to be trusted with, or by anyone with more brains than plastecine.

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