Westminster Council to hold competition to find London’s most gullible Councillor.

Over the long time that Nutsville has been posting on matters close to the public’s heart we have mentioned ‘Partnerships in Parking’ on an all to frequent basis.

Some observers have enquired as to the provenance of this quango and whilst there is a lull before more important matters on the horizon come to light we thought we would explain a little about this fruity boys club.

The quango ‘Partnerships in Parking’ (PiP) came in to existence after a plot was hatched by two members of Westminster Council, Councillor Danny Chalkley and the councils (then) Head of parking Alastair Gilchrist.

The names are familiar to keen readers so we won’t rehearse the sordid details here.

The circumstances in which Chalkley and Gilchrist spawned their PiP lovechild could only be from the pages of a script reminiscent of a warped 1970’s comedy – though without the  canned laughter.  Its like a double act without the act.

Are you going to be backdating those contracts all night Alastair?

Are you going to be backdating those contracts all night Alastair?

Due to the break-up of their respective personal relationships the pair found themselves coincidentally homeless at the same time as they had both been booted onto the streets by their partners for reasons not the subject of this article.

But fate smiled on the pair when they were amazingly queue jumped and offered a flat courtesy of Westminster Council. They moved in together, peas in a pod but each with their own key.

Whilst Chalkley and Gilchrist were shacked up together, bereft of their respective wives, they spent their evenings in deep discussion over a bottle of Westminster Whine. The potion was toxic and inevitably things quickly turned into a Brothers Grimm version of Men Behaving Badly as Gilchrist (the parking expert) pushed the idea of setting up PiP.

And so it was, PIP was born into this world – the product of a bastard union of little and large over a bottle of electric soup in a council flat.

Having dreamed up the plan and passed it round like a saucy postcard, Westminster decided that they were to be the lead Local Authority in PiP. It was unthinkable that any other local authority could match Westminster’s expertise on parking.

A few other local councils and Transport for London jumped on board, sold on the idea that they could do away with complicated and expensive tendering and contract procurements put in place to safeguard the taxpayer and beguiled by the hollow promises of their membership.

As it has now been shown, joining PiP has turned out to be a Faustian bargain. PiP’s framework agreements have been exposed as dodgy because in one way or another they all breeched various EU directives.

Nutsville went into some depth about these breeches in a post at the beginning of June. 2010 (view June PiP post).

Currently there is one known complaint being considered by the EU commissioners, with two or even three more that look certain to follow.

As time progressed PiP took on more local authorities as members, luring them with ready made agreements all set up for them to use. Yet neither Chalkley nor Gilchrist thought to mention the EU investigation to the new members, who began (we hope) oblivious of the legal problems when using the services of companies such as Verrus, sweeping away their ties with existing suppliers,.

Yet PiP went on making mistake after mistake, constantly breaking EU law and failing to address any of the obvious concerns that would so easily scupper the whole affair. The mistakes are so serious that if the EU do not receive some satisfactory answers soon it will be the British Government that is taken to court, with each PiP member financially liable for every dodgy contract they’ve used.

Today sees PiP heading for the rocks, as its former chairman Chalkley has fallen foul of Westminster leader Colin Barrow, and been thrown out of all the councils cabinets.

So PiP hope at a meeting tomorrow (28th July 2010) to elect a new chairman. However a bloody great bluebottle has landed in the PiP ointment, because Mr Jones who used to be a  researcher for the NTBPT campaign group thought it was his civic duty to not only send a report to every Westminster Councillor but also to every local authority PiP member. (download Mr Graeme Jones’s report)

Some of these LA representatives will be attending PiP for the first time, and the Mr Jones’s report will be big news to them if no surprise to anyone else!

So who is going to be gullible enough to want to stand as the new chairman of PiP? The Councillor who has replaced Chalkley, Cllr Rowley has wisely said he will not be standing for election to PiP chairman. That could be prudent judgement, or more likely because he has no intention of hanging around Victoria Street too long and would be quite pleased to have a cosy push into the central government nest.

Cllr Rowley you may remember stated he was very happy with the £430,000 loss making motorcycle charging scheme (MCS). Although he has held several meetings with various stakeholders of the MCS, and on some occasions been unable to justify its existence, he has not shown any enthusiasm to go up against the Westminster mafia of Colin Barrow and Robert Davis. So for now we must presume that Cllr Rowley remains blissfully happy about the MCS. Rowley has only less than four years to remain in a state of blind euphoria as he is strongly tipped to take over from the darling of the press the flouncing Joanne Cash as the Conservatives parliamentary candidate for Westminster North at the next election.

So we can see that his future glittering career is Cllr Rowley’s biggest incentive for staying away from PiP as much as possible.

In the past few weeks Mr Jones has contacted well over half of the PiP members, but not one wanted to be Westminsters patsy and stand for election as PiP chairman.

Things have been rather strained whenever PiP is mentioned down at City Hall. With Gilchrist behaving like the man we always thought he was, running around saying ‘it wasn’t me’ and blaming junior officers for all of PiP’s woes.

To help spare Gilchrist any further blushes, if no one wants to take over the poison chalice of PiP chairman perhaps a member of the public would like to bring along a portable Hi Fi to tomorrows PiP meeting. Then just  like the childhood parlour game we would ensure there is one chair too few.

When the music stops whoever is left standing gets to play PiP chairman.

Job done.

Before anyone digs out their folk dancing tunes one long time PiP member (Archie Galloway) representing the City of London has been named as a possible candidate for Chairman of PiP. So is Galloway going into this as a fall guy for Westminsters wrong doings? This would seem unlikely, as Galloway had been serving on the City of London Council since 1981, so if anyone should know when something should be avoided it would be him.

But if Archie Galloway thinks PiP’s troubles are behind them he would be mistaken. A PiP a spokesman was surprised to learn this week that PiP member Tower Hamlets has recently awarded a juicy contract to NSL Limited for vehicle removal and pound management.

Unbeknown to PiP, Tower Hamlets have awarded NSL a £1.1 M contract. If that were not bad enough Tower Hamlets claim that:

It is anticipated that the contract will also be used as and when required
by members of Partnership in Parking (PIP) made up of -: City of London,
London boroughs of Camden, Croydon, Enfield, Hackney, Lambeth, Richmond and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and any such entity that they may evolve into during the life of the contract.

So like a stuck record we see another contract award violating EU directives, all supposed under the watchful eye of Westminster Council.

It should be clear to anyone that it’s time to kill off Gilchrists Frankenstiens monster known as PiP. But will any of the PiP members have the courage to do the right thing, or will they expose their own electorate to potentially huge costs trying to defend their own complicity in Westminster Councils contract bungling and dubious self serving legal advice.

If the PiP members ignore the warning and hope to pretend to themselves they can carry on, ironically they will have the chance to vote to use Westminster Councils own legal team at tomorrows PiP meeting. Won’t that be nice and tidy for Westminster.

Should PiP carry on it would be expected that we will be spreading our investigations to all of the other PiP members. With Camden, Islington and the City of London all showing an interest in charging bikes to park, and other legal actions we know of in the wings Nutsville will be queuing up to say to them when things get uncomfortable “we told you so”.

ps.. Nutsville is not revealing who did the washing and ironing when Danny and Allastair shared the council flat together. So don’t ask.

Meeting documents:

PiP Meeting agenda

PiP Election of Chairman

PiP really need to use Westminsters legal team

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1 Comment

BanditJuly 28th, 2010 at 8:43 am

At least Morecombe & Wise were funny.. there’s something creepy about Knobcheese Chalkley & Ali G sharing digs… especially if Ali was wearing his fetching cycling kit…

In fact the only funny thing about this whole PiP conspiracy is Alistairs Failure To Perform at the Parkex Seminar, when he suddenly had a ‘diary clash’ instead of presenting the (dubious) benefits of PiP to an eager group of parking industrialists who devise ever more means to deprive us of our hard-earned.

Let’s hope that the EU do something useful for once and squash this dodgy quango.

Now. Who wants to be Chairman?

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