Leaked secret document reveals investigators found ruling councillors knowingly broke EU law

RULING councillors deliberately broke the law over a £2.5 million contract, it has emerged.

A confidential 2006 report by council fraud investigators found council cabinet members, some of whom are still in place, were aware a decision to extend a recycling collection agreement with company ECT contravened EU legislation.

Cabinet waived rules regarding the extension, which it is entitled to do in exceptional circumstances, but investigators found no justification for the move.

The report states: “The inability to waive EU procurement rules was drawn to the attention of cabinet in the proposal.

“When rules are broken for no apparent reason or necessity, there is little motivation for others to abide by them.

“It is difficult to understand how (the council) expects to uphold the law when its own cabinet deliberately breaks it.”

Council leader Chris Robbins, former leader Clyde Loakes and current cabinet members Liaquat Ali and Keith Rayner were all present at the meeting.

The report also states that senior council officer Keith Weir deliberately misled the authority in pushing for the extension.

Rather than include the warning of legal risk to the authority in the main body of his report to cabinet, he buried it in an unpublished appendix.

Mr Weir said he pushed for the 12-month extension “because tendering processes had been overlooked”.

But this is described in the report as “very difficult to believe”.

The council’s former head of procurement, Henry Swan, had previously agreed to a six-month extension as a compromise.

But the report states that, to the surprise of Mr Swann and the authority’s corporate solicitor, Mr Weir’s 12-month extension proposal still went to cabinet.

The proposal is also described as “poorly justified”.

“A request for a bank loan for £20k would require more justification than this,” investigators conclude.

The findings informed the recent independent investigation into the long-term mismanagement of taxpayers’ money by the authority.

But it has been kept secret after the council decided releasing it would not be in the public interest.

The independent report by Sir Peter Rogers found rules to prevent fraud were regularly ignored over a number of years and those responsible were not held to account.

The council declined to answer a number of questions regarding the report, but released the following statement: "We can confirm the recommendations of this confidential report were addressed after it was published in 2006. The Council cannot comment on the details of confidential documents.

‘The Chief Executive commissioned an Independent Panel in 2009 to deal with concerns about the management of contracts. In December 2009 the Panel published it's final report and made a series of far reaching recommendations. The council accepted the findings and recommendations of the report in full.

"We are working hard to implement the recommendations of the Independent Panel in order to restore confidence in Council’s ability to procure and manage contracts and improve services for our residents."

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4:22pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

Thank you for publishing this information.
Thank you for publishing this information. Techno2

4:53pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Walthamster says...

This report says Waltham Forest council cabinet "deliberately" broke the law.

But the report was "kept secret after the council decided releasing it would not be in the public interest".

How is the public interest served by keeping breaches of the law secret? Secrecy only serves the interests of those who broke the law.

Explanation, please, from the councillors named: current council leader Chris Robbins, ex-leader Clyde Loakes, ex-mayor Liaquat Ali and ex-deputy leader Keith Rayner.
This report says Waltham Forest council cabinet "deliberately" broke the law. But the report was "kept secret after the council decided releasing it would not be in the public interest". How is the public interest served by keeping breaches of the law secret? Secrecy only serves the interests of those who broke the law. Explanation, please, from the councillors named: current council leader Chris Robbins, ex-leader Clyde Loakes, ex-mayor Liaquat Ali and ex-deputy leader Keith Rayner. Walthamster

4:55pm Wed 27 Jan 10

PCanal says...

Perhaps those with access to other supressed documents that will reveal the gross incompetence and maladministration of the Labour run Liberal abetted council will release them to the Guardian and to wikileaks, so we can all learn more about how to run a council into the ground.

There are rumours of millions being squandered on Clyde Loakes watch. Council Tax Payers have the right to know and the Guardian has the moral courage to expose the egregious behaviour of arguably the least competent council in London.
Perhaps those with access to other supressed documents that will reveal the gross incompetence and maladministration of the Labour run Liberal abetted council will release them to the Guardian and to wikileaks, so we can all learn more about how to run a council into the ground. There are rumours of millions being squandered on Clyde Loakes watch. Council Tax Payers have the right to know and the Guardian has the moral courage to expose the egregious behaviour of arguably the least competent council in London. PCanal

5:17pm Wed 27 Jan 10

NT says...

The Guardian is to be congratulated for bringing all this into the open.

The current chief executive justified withholding material in the Independent Panel's report from rank and file councillors and the public on legal grounds, but we now discover that the excised appendices contain this tawdry story, in which the council's own internal corporate audit and anti-fraud team (CAAFT) are to be found chastising the Cabinet for knowingly - not accidently - breaking the law. The line 'It is difficult to understand how LBWF expects to uphold the law when its own Cabinet deliberately breaks it' is priceless, especially in the context of the current NRF/BNI fiasco.

Some serious questions need to be answered, and answered quickly. One is as follows. The CAAFT report referred to went to all the senior officers in the Council. Thus, they all had knowledge of a serious allegation that an unlawful act had been committed. What did they do about it?

There is an old Turkish proverb: 'The fish goes rotten from the head'. Never has it been more applicable.
The Guardian is to be congratulated for bringing all this into the open. The current chief executive justified withholding material in the Independent Panel's report from rank and file councillors and the public on legal grounds, but we now discover that the excised appendices contain this tawdry story, in which the council's own internal corporate audit and anti-fraud team (CAAFT) are to be found chastising the Cabinet for knowingly - not accidently - breaking the law. The line 'It is difficult to understand how LBWF expects to uphold the law when its own Cabinet deliberately breaks it' is priceless, especially in the context of the current NRF/BNI fiasco. Some serious questions need to be answered, and answered quickly. One is as follows. The CAAFT report referred to went to all the senior officers in the Council. Thus, they all had knowledge of a serious allegation that an unlawful act had been committed. What did they do about it? There is an old Turkish proverb: 'The fish goes rotten from the head'. Never has it been more applicable. NT

5:21pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Walthamster says...

I'd like to know more about two huge contracts that did a lot of damage in our area:

1) The unwanted 'regeneration' scheme to repave the St James Street end of the High Street market. The market was closed for months and has never recovered. There are only a handful of stalls now where there used to be scores of them, and some of the shops went under too.

2. The £3.5 million 'refurbishment' of Walthamstow's town-square library, a listed building. This added on impractical extensions (partly still unuseable), damaged the roof, caused leaks that have destroyed 100-year-old decorations, increased the heating bills, made the acoustics worse and put the DVDs in a spot where they're easy to steal. Apart from the DVD-thieves, the only obvious beneficiaries are whoever got the contract to design and make this mess.
I'd like to know more about two huge contracts that did a lot of damage in our area: 1) The unwanted 'regeneration' scheme to repave the St James Street end of the High Street market. The market was closed for months and has never recovered. There are only a handful of stalls now where there used to be scores of them, and some of the shops went under too. 2. The £3.5 million 'refurbishment' of Walthamstow's town-square library, a listed building. This added on impractical extensions (partly still unuseable), damaged the roof, caused leaks that have destroyed 100-year-old decorations, increased the heating bills, made the acoustics worse and put the DVDs in a spot where they're easy to steal. Apart from the DVD-thieves, the only obvious beneficiaries are whoever got the contract to design and make this mess. Walthamster

5:32pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Tom Thumb says...

The stench around this Council's mis-use of public money, the awarding of contracts, and the disposal of public land to developers, grows ever stronger.

I fail to understand why no officer has been sacked and no councillor has been forced to resign.

What a rabble!

Well done the Guardian for exposing yet another scandal. And shame on everyone in the local Labour Party for staying silent about these matters. Shame, too, on the Council for squandering vast sums of public money on its pathetic fortnightly "newspaper" which consists of nothing but empty propaganda and self-praise.
The stench around this Council's mis-use of public money, the awarding of contracts, and the disposal of public land to developers, grows ever stronger. I fail to understand why no officer has been sacked and no councillor has been forced to resign. What a rabble! Well done the Guardian for exposing yet another scandal. And shame on everyone in the local Labour Party for staying silent about these matters. Shame, too, on the Council for squandering vast sums of public money on its pathetic fortnightly "newspaper" which consists of nothing but empty propaganda and self-praise. Tom Thumb

5:48pm Wed 27 Jan 10

sensibility says...

so if they have broken the law, who is going to prosecute them !!!
so if they have broken the law, who is going to prosecute them !!! sensibility

6:00pm Wed 27 Jan 10

NT says...

BTW, for those who wonder, the Cabinet discussion is here at 244:
http://www1.walthamf
orest.gov.uk/moderng
ov/ieListDocuments.a
sp?CId=287&MId=1311&
Ver=4

It would be interesting to know who exactly was responsible for the fact that Mr. Weir's appendices were excluded from the published record. Mr. Weir might have desired this end, as the CAAFT report hints at, but he had no responsibility for how the Cabinet minutes were compiled, nor the format in which they were eventually put into the public domain.
BTW, for those who wonder, the Cabinet discussion is here at 244: http://www1.walthamf orest.gov.uk/moderng ov/ieListDocuments.a sp?CId=287&MId=1311& Ver=4 It would be interesting to know who exactly was responsible for the fact that Mr. Weir's appendices were excluded from the published record. Mr. Weir might have desired this end, as the CAAFT report hints at, but he had no responsibility for how the Cabinet minutes were compiled, nor the format in which they were eventually put into the public domain. NT

6:41pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Fedupwithitall says...

Let me get this straight. Robbins, Loakes, Liaqat Ali and Rayner were all members of a Cabinet who knowingly broke the law? If this is the case they should resign as Councillors immediately. It also makes a total mockery of Robbins who, after the publication of the recent Independent Panel Report, tried to remove himself from blame by saying he had only recently taken up his post.
Let me get this straight. Robbins, Loakes, Liaqat Ali and Rayner were all members of a Cabinet who knowingly broke the law? If this is the case they should resign as Councillors immediately. It also makes a total mockery of Robbins who, after the publication of the recent Independent Panel Report, tried to remove himself from blame by saying he had only recently taken up his post. Fedupwithitall

7:14pm Wed 27 Jan 10

newyear says...

How can this possibly NOT be in the public interest?! Suppressing information of this kind merely leads to more expensive fiascos like the emerging Ascham Homes one. Keep up the good wor, Nick!
How can this possibly NOT be in the public interest?! Suppressing information of this kind merely leads to more expensive fiascos like the emerging Ascham Homes one. Keep up the good wor, Nick! newyear

7:28pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Malcolm Shykles says...

Northampton Borough Council was put into "special measures" by the Government because of its poor record. This lasted for some 5 years and continued until 2009.

The problem is that the Government also needs to be in “Special Measures”.
Northampton Borough Council was put into "special measures" by the Government because of its poor record. This lasted for some 5 years and continued until 2009. The problem is that the Government also needs to be in “Special Measures”. Malcolm Shykles

8:11pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

Having presumably read this and had time to consider it, I wonder if John Macklin would yet care to comment on why he is sharing a cabinet with these people? Will he be demading their resignations?
Having presumably read this and had time to consider it, I wonder if John Macklin would yet care to comment on why he is sharing a cabinet with these people? Will he be demading their resignations? Techno2

8:22pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

I wonder if the council's current legal advisers have formulated any view on whether malfeasance in public office has occurred here. If they are unfamiliar with this concept, mayby they could consider the following:

In the House of Lords judgement on the BCCI Malfeasance Case it was held that malfeasance in public office, (which is tort at common law as well as a crime) has 3 essential elements:

1. The defendant must be a public officer
2. The defendant must have been exercising his power as a public officer
3. The defendant is either exercising targeted malice or exceeding his powers.

The Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on this offence say that the elements of the offence are when:

1. A public officer acting as such.
2. Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.
3. To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.
4. Without reasonable excuse or justification.

In the decision not to prosecute Damien Green, the Director of Public Prosecutions said that "the breach must have been such a serious departure from acceptable standards as to constitute a criminal offence; and to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the public official;" citing the Court of Appeal in the case of Attorney General's Reference No.3 of 2003 EWCA Crim 868
I wonder if the council's current legal advisers have formulated any view on whether malfeasance in public office has occurred here. If they are unfamiliar with this concept, mayby they could consider the following: In the House of Lords judgement on the BCCI Malfeasance Case it was held that malfeasance in public office, (which is tort at common law as well as a crime) has 3 essential elements: 1. The defendant must be a public officer 2. The defendant must have been exercising his power as a public officer 3. The defendant is either exercising targeted malice or exceeding his powers. The Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on this offence say that the elements of the offence are when: 1. A public officer acting as such. 2. Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself. 3. To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder. 4. Without reasonable excuse or justification. In the decision not to prosecute Damien Green, the Director of Public Prosecutions said that "the breach must have been such a serious departure from acceptable standards as to constitute a criminal offence; and to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the public official;" citing the Court of Appeal in the case of Attorney General's Reference No.3 of 2003 [2004] EWCA Crim 868 Techno2

8:38pm Wed 27 Jan 10

jrp says...

This is the dawning of the era of the independent councilor maybe.
This is the dawning of the era of the independent councilor maybe. jrp

9:00pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

jrp wrote:
This is the dawning of the era of the independent councilor maybe.
You thinking of standing?
[quote][p][bold]jrp[/bold] wrote: This is the dawning of the era of the independent councilor maybe.[/p][/quote]You thinking of standing? Techno2

9:00pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Avenueroad says...

I agree with JRP the Independent Councillor could be closer than you all think,
so watch this space.
I agree with JRP the Independent Councillor could be closer than you all think, so watch this space. Avenueroad

9:06pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Tom Thumb says...

If not the police, isn’t this a matter for Standards for England (“formerly known as the Standards Board for England”)?

According to Wikipedia:

“Established following the Local Government Act 2000, it is responsible for promoting high ethical standards in local democracy. It oversees the Code of Conduct, which covers elected and co-opted members who serve on a range of authorities. Standards for England maintains an independent national overview of local investigations into allegations that members' conduct may have fallen short of the required standards. In certain cases, Standards for England investigates allegations itself. Standards for England cannot impose sanctions on members, but if it considers that further action may be necessary, it refers cases to the Adjudication Panel for England or to the relevant authority's own standards committee for determination. Standards committees can suspend members for up to six months. The Adjudication Panel can disqualify members for up to five years.”

Those involved in this latest scandal should not be allowed to get away with it.
If not the police, isn’t this a matter for Standards for England (“formerly known as the Standards Board for England”)? According to Wikipedia: “Established following the Local Government Act 2000, it is responsible for promoting high ethical standards in local democracy. It oversees the Code of Conduct, which covers elected and co-opted members who serve on a range of authorities. Standards for England maintains an independent national overview of local investigations into allegations that members' conduct may have fallen short of the required standards. In certain cases, Standards for England investigates allegations itself. Standards for England cannot impose sanctions on members, but if it considers that further action may be necessary, it refers cases to the Adjudication Panel for England or to the relevant authority's own standards committee for determination. Standards committees can suspend members for up to six months. The Adjudication Panel can disqualify members for up to five years.” Those involved in this latest scandal should not be allowed to get away with it. Tom Thumb

9:23pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

Tom Thumb wrote:
If not the police, isn’t this a matter for Standards for England (“formerly known as the Standards Board for England”)? According to Wikipedia: “Established following the Local Government Act 2000, it is responsible for promoting high ethical standards in local democracy. It oversees the Code of Conduct, which covers elected and co-opted members who serve on a range of authorities. Standards for England maintains an independent national overview of local investigations into allegations that members' conduct may have fallen short of the required standards. In certain cases, Standards for England investigates allegations itself. Standards for England cannot impose sanctions on members, but if it considers that further action may be necessary, it refers cases to the Adjudication Panel for England or to the relevant authority's own standards committee for determination. Standards committees can suspend members for up to six months. The Adjudication Panel can disqualify members for up to five years.” Those involved in this latest scandal should not be allowed to get away with it.
That is one route, though what we are looking at here is not just a breach of an ethical code but also a possible crime, to be considered in a court of law. I can't see why this is not a matter for the police and Director of Public Prosecutions.

As to who should be making the complaint, isn't that a duty the council officers are under? If not, any other honest councillors. I take it we can include Mr Macklin or Mr Davis in that. Failing them, I suppose a private individual could do it or one of the anti-corruption pressure groups.

Let's see if they are all willing to resign tomorrow.
[quote][p][bold]Tom Thumb[/bold] wrote: If not the police, isn’t this a matter for Standards for England (“formerly known as the Standards Board for England”)? According to Wikipedia: “Established following the Local Government Act 2000, it is responsible for promoting high ethical standards in local democracy. It oversees the Code of Conduct, which covers elected and co-opted members who serve on a range of authorities. Standards for England maintains an independent national overview of local investigations into allegations that members' conduct may have fallen short of the required standards. In certain cases, Standards for England investigates allegations itself. Standards for England cannot impose sanctions on members, but if it considers that further action may be necessary, it refers cases to the Adjudication Panel for England or to the relevant authority's own standards committee for determination. Standards committees can suspend members for up to six months. The Adjudication Panel can disqualify members for up to five years.” Those involved in this latest scandal should not be allowed to get away with it.[/p][/quote]That is one route, though what we are looking at here is not just a breach of an ethical code but also a possible crime, to be considered in a court of law. I can't see why this is not a matter for the police and Director of Public Prosecutions. As to who should be making the complaint, isn't that a duty the council officers are under? If not, any other honest councillors. I take it we can include Mr Macklin or Mr Davis in that. Failing them, I suppose a private individual could do it or one of the anti-corruption pressure groups. Let's see if they are all willing to resign tomorrow. Techno2

10:35pm Wed 27 Jan 10

NT says...

Beyond the issue of the Cabinet 'knowingly' breaking EU law, the CAAFT report throws yet further light on the shambles that was LBWF in late 2006.
The contracts register was 'incomplete', and so unreliable; 'many of the Council's officers' did not follow the rules, but nothing was done about it; recommendations to Cabinet were 'poorly drafted, strategically flawed and incomplete', to the extent that it was difficult to see how they could form any basis for reaching 'sound decisions'; of five cases looked at in detail, 'no original contract could be found in any of the cases'; the tendering process was 'not transparent'; the evidence suggested 'a risk' that major contracts were being awarded to favoured companies, regardless of merit; and so on.
Little wonder that so many people have wanted to keep this report a secret.
Beyond the issue of the Cabinet 'knowingly' breaking EU law, the CAAFT report throws yet further light on the shambles that was LBWF in late 2006. The contracts register was 'incomplete', and so unreliable; 'many of the Council's officers' did not follow the rules, but nothing was done about it; recommendations to Cabinet were 'poorly drafted, strategically flawed and incomplete', to the extent that it was difficult to see how they could form any basis for reaching 'sound decisions'; of five cases looked at in detail, 'no original contract could be found in any of the cases'; the tendering process was 'not transparent'; the evidence suggested 'a risk' that major contracts were being awarded to favoured companies, regardless of merit; and so on. Little wonder that so many people have wanted to keep this report a secret. NT

10:37pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Fedupwithitall says...

Techno talks about honest Councillors, but it will be interesting to see whether Cllr Macklin will be making any complaint to the Standards Board seeing as the Cabinet that actually broke the law back in 2005 consisted of a number of Lib Dem Councillors at the time, although the only one still serving is Rayner. I think its important to remember that the Lib Dems are as much in the mire here as Labour.
Techno talks about honest Councillors, but it will be interesting to see whether Cllr Macklin will be making any complaint to the Standards Board seeing as the Cabinet that actually broke the law back in 2005 consisted of a number of Lib Dem Councillors at the time, although the only one still serving is Rayner. I think its important to remember that the Lib Dems are as much in the mire here as Labour. Fedupwithitall

11:04pm Wed 27 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

Fedupwithitall wrote:
Techno talks about honest Councillors, but it will be interesting to see whether Cllr Macklin will be making any complaint to the Standards Board seeing as the Cabinet that actually broke the law back in 2005 consisted of a number of Lib Dem Councillors at the time, although the only one still serving is Rayner. I think its important to remember that the Lib Dems are as much in the mire here as Labour.
I am not aware of allegations of dishonesty relating to Mr Macklin, so assume him to be honest. For the purposes of dealing with the mess between now and any election (or if and when these people step down), I think we can assume he is in a position to exercise reponsibility and make any report on our behalf to the relevant bodies. I expect that legal people in the council will be able to advise him and other councillors on the options and duties if need be.

If you know of anything that would make it impossible for him to do that I suppose Mr Davis would be able to do the necessary just as well. It might be good if a cross-party approach could be taken and if a few untainted Labour councillors could be found who are willing to show leadership and responsibility to help clean up the borough as well. I have been nagging away for months asking people to show some cajones and speak up but sadly no-one has done so as yet, but maybe this will wake them up.

What I hope most reasonable folk would agree is that there can be no more messing about, covering up and delays. This state of affairs has to stop, no matter who has been involved. Whatever the state of the party politics has been up to now, things are going to have to change.
[quote][p][bold]Fedupwithitall[/bold] wrote: Techno talks about honest Councillors, but it will be interesting to see whether Cllr Macklin will be making any complaint to the Standards Board seeing as the Cabinet that actually broke the law back in 2005 consisted of a number of Lib Dem Councillors at the time, although the only one still serving is Rayner. I think its important to remember that the Lib Dems are as much in the mire here as Labour.[/p][/quote]I am not aware of allegations of dishonesty relating to Mr Macklin, so assume him to be honest. For the purposes of dealing with the mess between now and any election (or if and when these people step down), I think we can assume he is in a position to exercise reponsibility and make any report on our behalf to the relevant bodies. I expect that legal people in the council will be able to advise him and other councillors on the options and duties if need be. If you know of anything that would make it impossible for him to do that I suppose Mr Davis would be able to do the necessary just as well. It might be good if a cross-party approach could be taken and if a few untainted Labour councillors could be found who are willing to show leadership and responsibility to help clean up the borough as well. I have been nagging away for months asking people to show some cajones and speak up but sadly no-one has done so as yet, but maybe this will wake them up. What I hope most reasonable folk would agree is that there can be no more messing about, covering up and delays. This state of affairs has to stop, no matter who has been involved. Whatever the state of the party politics has been up to now, things are going to have to change. Techno2

9:25am Thu 28 Jan 10

jrp says...

Techno2 wrote:
jrp wrote:
This is the dawning of the era of the independent councilor maybe.
You thinking of standing?
I am thinking of letting my dog stand!! He will do a better job.
[quote][p][bold]Techno2[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jrp[/bold] wrote: This is the dawning of the era of the independent councilor maybe.[/p][/quote]You thinking of standing?[/p][/quote]I am thinking of letting my dog stand!! He will do a better job. jrp

10:59am Thu 28 Jan 10

Touchwood says...

Why am I not surprised by this?!
Why am I not surprised by this?! Touchwood

11:18am Thu 28 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

jrp wrote:
Techno2 wrote:
jrp wrote: This is the dawning of the era of the independent councilor maybe.
You thinking of standing?
I am thinking of letting my dog stand!! He will do a better job.
Get him on the ballot paper then and let's see how he does. :)
[quote][p][bold]jrp[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Techno2[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jrp[/bold] wrote: This is the dawning of the era of the independent councilor maybe.[/p][/quote]You thinking of standing?[/p][/quote]I am thinking of letting my dog stand!! He will do a better job.[/p][/quote]Get him on the ballot paper then and let's see how he does. :) Techno2

11:27am Thu 28 Jan 10

newyear says...

Pity you live in Leytonstone, jrp. If you lived in Chingford you'd only have to stick a blue rosette on your dog and he'd definitely get in - and probably make a better job of it!
Pity you live in Leytonstone, jrp. If you lived in Chingford you'd only have to stick a blue rosette on your dog and he'd definitely get in - and probably make a better job of it! newyear

3:05pm Thu 28 Jan 10

SarahSE says...

All this at the same time as they are clamping down on the right to campaign and protest in the borough. The council is using 1906 legislation to clamp down on trade unionists and socialist campaigners and they have been shown to be totally rotten! The Independent panel Report also showed that they have been undemocratic and unaccountable - we should have a say in how our borough is run. On page 15 the Unison branch secretary warns of major cuts coming to our public services - from a council that has been shown a council who has already wasted thousands on rotten privatisation. Come to the meeting at the Rose and Crown tonight at 7.30pm called by the Socialist Party and open to everyone to discuss how we can defend our democratic rights and challenge this council!
All this at the same time as they are clamping down on the right to campaign and protest in the borough. The council is using 1906 legislation to clamp down on trade unionists and socialist campaigners and they have been shown to be totally rotten! The Independent panel Report also showed that they have been undemocratic and unaccountable - we should have a say in how our borough is run. On page 15 the Unison branch secretary warns of major cuts coming to our public services - from a council that has been shown a council who has already wasted thousands on rotten privatisation. Come to the meeting at the Rose and Crown tonight at 7.30pm called by the Socialist Party and open to everyone to discuss how we can defend our democratic rights and challenge this council! SarahSE

7:08pm Thu 28 Jan 10

Investigations says...

Inspector Knacker do your duty! This sort of caper has become quite prevalent in many municipalities in Britain since the restructurings and politicalization of the sixties! Nothing short of something like the Spanish Inquisition is ever going to clean it up!
Inspector Knacker do your duty! This sort of caper has become quite prevalent in many municipalities in Britain since the restructurings and politicalization of the sixties! Nothing short of something like the Spanish Inquisition is ever going to clean it up! Investigations

11:02pm Thu 28 Jan 10

mdj says...

Does this remind anyone of the Council's attempt to award St Modwen a second uncontested bid to draft a development plan for the Arcade site, when they pulled out from their first proposal? Were the same Councillors involved in that illegal decision, by any chance?
Once again, it was only local residents, not Councillors or officers, who thwartedthe attempt to disregard the law.
Were the independent panel members even made aware of this matter?
Does this remind anyone of the Council's attempt to award St Modwen a second uncontested bid to draft a development plan for the Arcade site, when they pulled out from their first proposal? Were the same Councillors involved in that illegal decision, by any chance? Once again, it was only local residents, not Councillors or officers, who thwartedthe attempt to disregard the law. Were the independent panel members even made aware of this matter? mdj

9:02am Fri 29 Jan 10

jrp says...

The silence from the town hall is deafening!!
The silence from the town hall is deafening!! jrp

9:38am Fri 29 Jan 10

Tom Thumb says...

jrp wrote:
The silence from the town hall is deafening!!
The silence from everyone but residents is deafening. No one in the Labour Party is saying a word. The opposition parties are mute.

I think the rot set in with the Blair local government reforms, which transferred power from council committee meetings which were open to the public, to a tiny decision-making clique known as 'the cabinet' who reach decisions with council officers behind closed doors. All those councillors not in the cabinet are now powerless and excluded from open decision-making, apart from toothless and cosmetic 'scrutinty committees'.

Power has become concentrated among a few individuals. Because councillors now get lavish expenses none seems to be prepared to speak out, for fear of losing their perks.

Unfortunately the local Tories are just as keen on cabinet government as Labour and the Lib Dems, so don't expect anything to change after May.
[quote][p][bold]jrp[/bold] wrote: The silence from the town hall is deafening!![/p][/quote]The silence from everyone but residents is deafening. No one in the Labour Party is saying a word. The opposition parties are mute. I think the rot set in with the Blair local government reforms, which transferred power from council committee meetings which were open to the public, to a tiny decision-making clique known as 'the cabinet' who reach decisions with council officers behind closed doors. All those councillors not in the cabinet are now powerless and excluded from open decision-making, apart from toothless and cosmetic 'scrutinty committees'. Power has become concentrated among a few individuals. Because councillors now get lavish expenses none seems to be prepared to speak out, for fear of losing their perks. Unfortunately the local Tories are just as keen on cabinet government as Labour and the Lib Dems, so don't expect anything to change after May. Tom Thumb

9:57am Fri 29 Jan 10

newyear says...

Good posting, Tom Thumb. Got it in one!!
Good posting, Tom Thumb. Got it in one!! newyear

11:15am Fri 29 Jan 10

LEYTONOLDBOY says...

Our socialist grandparents must be turning in their graves. How did the labour party come to be in the hands of these crooks?
Our socialist grandparents must be turning in their graves. How did the labour party come to be in the hands of these crooks? LEYTONOLDBOY

8:40pm Fri 29 Jan 10

chris duran says...

Tom Thumb hits the nail on the head in his latest post, but your attack on the local Labour Party is unfair.

As you went on to say later, even the majority of Councillors are kept in the dark these days. You can be sure that the local members won't have known any more than you did.

As for Fedupwithitalls hope for a cross party alliance including untainted Labour Councillors, I can promise you that any Labour Cuncillor who puts loyalty totheir consituents above that to theirleaders will be isolated and prevented from standing next time.

As we have recently seen, councillors who put loyalty to their leader first are protected by the party's ruling officials. So local party members have no power to remove them
Tom Thumb hits the nail on the head in his latest post, but your attack on the local Labour Party is unfair. As you went on to say later, even the majority of Councillors are kept in the dark these days. You can be sure that the local members won't have known any more than you did. As for Fedupwithitalls hope for a cross party alliance including untainted Labour Councillors, I can promise you that any Labour Cuncillor who puts loyalty totheir consituents above that to theirleaders will be isolated and prevented from standing next time. As we have recently seen, councillors who put loyalty to their leader first are protected by the party's ruling officials. So local party members have no power to remove them chris duran

9:19pm Fri 29 Jan 10

Janet1 says...

chris duran wrote:
Tom Thumb hits the nail on the head in his latest post, but your attack on the local Labour Party is unfair.

As you went on to say later, even the majority of Councillors are kept in the dark these days. You can be sure that the local members won't have known any more than you did.

As for Fedupwithitalls hope for a cross party alliance including untainted Labour Councillors, I can promise you that any Labour Cuncillor who puts loyalty totheir consituents above that to theirleaders will be isolated and prevented from standing next time.

As we have recently seen, councillors who put loyalty to their leader first are protected by the party's ruling officials. So local party members have no power to remove them
My sympathy for the unknowing councillors is much reduced by the large allowances (minimum £10,000, and most are on a great deal more) each one of them accepts.

I'm a freelance. If i accept money I do the work. If I can't do the work I don't accept the job. If I took the job and then found I couldn't do the work, I wouldn't expect to be paid.
[quote][p][bold]chris duran[/bold] wrote: Tom Thumb hits the nail on the head in his latest post, but your attack on the local Labour Party is unfair. As you went on to say later, even the majority of Councillors are kept in the dark these days. You can be sure that the local members won't have known any more than you did. As for Fedupwithitalls hope for a cross party alliance including untainted Labour Councillors, I can promise you that any Labour Cuncillor who puts loyalty totheir consituents above that to theirleaders will be isolated and prevented from standing next time. As we have recently seen, councillors who put loyalty to their leader first are protected by the party's ruling officials. So local party members have no power to remove them[/p][/quote]My sympathy for the unknowing councillors is much reduced by the large allowances (minimum £10,000, and most are on a great deal more) each one of them accepts. I'm a freelance. If i accept money I do the work. If I can't do the work I don't accept the job. If I took the job and then found I couldn't do the work, I wouldn't expect to be paid. Janet1

10:47pm Fri 29 Jan 10

wfmywordmybond says...

Janet1 wrote:
chris duran wrote:
Tom Thumb hits the nail on the head in his latest post, but your attack on the local Labour Party is unfair.

As you went on to say later, even the majority of Councillors are kept in the dark these days. You can be sure that the local members won't have known any more than you did.

As for Fedupwithitalls hope for a cross party alliance including untainted Labour Councillors, I can promise you that any Labour Cuncillor who puts loyalty totheir consituents above that to theirleaders will be isolated and prevented from standing next time.

As we have recently seen, councillors who put loyalty to their leader first are protected by the party's ruling officials. So local party members have no power to remove them
My sympathy for the unknowing councillors is much reduced by the large allowances (minimum £10,000, and most are on a great deal more) each one of them accepts.

I'm a freelance. If i accept money I do the work. If I can't do the work I don't accept the job. If I took the job and then found I couldn't do the work, I wouldn't expect to be paid.
Janet - The councillors' allowances are not the issue here. The issue is about the probity of some of our elected representatives.
The years between 2002 & 2006 seem to have been very dark times indeed for this council with the BNI/NRF debacle and now this.
What concerns me is a few power hungry politicians tarring all the others with the same brush. Yes, you heard right...their not all corrupt!Those who have been put in the frame should stand aside whilst an 'independent' investigation is conducted particularly those who hold positions of trust elsewhere as a Justice of the Peace.
If we can't trust our magistrates who can we trust?
[quote][p][bold]Janet1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]chris duran[/bold] wrote: Tom Thumb hits the nail on the head in his latest post, but your attack on the local Labour Party is unfair. As you went on to say later, even the majority of Councillors are kept in the dark these days. You can be sure that the local members won't have known any more than you did. As for Fedupwithitalls hope for a cross party alliance including untainted Labour Councillors, I can promise you that any Labour Cuncillor who puts loyalty totheir consituents above that to theirleaders will be isolated and prevented from standing next time. As we have recently seen, councillors who put loyalty to their leader first are protected by the party's ruling officials. So local party members have no power to remove them[/p][/quote]My sympathy for the unknowing councillors is much reduced by the large allowances (minimum £10,000, and most are on a great deal more) each one of them accepts. I'm a freelance. If i accept money I do the work. If I can't do the work I don't accept the job. If I took the job and then found I couldn't do the work, I wouldn't expect to be paid.[/p][/quote]Janet - The councillors' allowances are not the issue here. The issue is about the probity of some of our elected representatives. The years between 2002 & 2006 seem to have been very dark times indeed for this council with the BNI/NRF debacle and now this. What concerns me is a few power hungry politicians tarring all the others with the same brush. Yes, you heard right...their not all corrupt!Those who have been put in the frame should stand aside whilst an 'independent' investigation is conducted particularly those who hold positions of trust elsewhere as a Justice of the Peace. If we can't trust our magistrates who can we trust? wfmywordmybond

11:23pm Sat 30 Jan 10

Janet1 says...

I don't imagine they're all corrupt, WFBond. What matters is that elected councillors are meant to be running the show. That's what they're paid for. If anything goes wrong they're meant to be poking their noses in and finding out why.

The fact is that they've sat back meekly, year after year, and let council officers (if that's who is to blame) get away with multi-million dollar mismanagement.

All of this has been dragged to light by Nick Tiratsoo, an ordinary local resident. He's been working on this for years, posting information on the WF Guardian site as he goes along. It isn't some shocking unexpected revelation that's taken councillors by surprise. They should have been digging away at this pit themselves as soon as he had alerted them.

That's why they're not innocent bystanders. By letting the scandal continue when they knew what was going on -- by letting wrong-doers knew they could continue in safety -- the councillors share the blame.
I don't imagine they're all corrupt, WFBond. What matters is that elected councillors are meant to be running the show. That's what they're paid for. If anything goes wrong they're meant to be poking their noses in and finding out why. The fact is that they've sat back meekly, year after year, and let council officers (if that's who is to blame) get away with multi-million dollar mismanagement. All of this has been dragged to light by Nick Tiratsoo, an ordinary local resident. He's been working on this for years, posting information on the WF Guardian site as he goes along. It isn't some shocking unexpected revelation that's taken councillors by surprise. They should have been digging away at this pit themselves as soon as he had alerted them. That's why they're not innocent bystanders. By letting the scandal continue when they knew what was going on -- by letting wrong-doers knew they could continue in safety -- the councillors share the blame. Janet1

12:39am Sun 31 Jan 10

Fedupwithitall says...

Chris Duran is right (by the way Chris it wasn't me calling for a cross party alliance). The ordinary Labour Party members are kept in the dark until news breaks in the WF Guardian. If they ask any questions or dare to scrutinise their elected representatives they are labelled as trouble makers or even threatened with expulsion. The hefty Cabinet allowances mean that councillors often give up their day job as soon as they get into the Cabinet and daren't rock the boat in case they lose their lucrative position. Backbench councillors meanwhile are either kept in the dark or are too stupid to understand what's going on or are too scared to speak up because they hope that one day they too might make it to the dizzy heights of Cabinet or earn the Leader's patronage in some way - maybe by becoming Mayor. Meanwhile the Lib Dems are in a cosy coalition with a share of the power (and salary) but Macklin's clever enough to deflect the blame onto Labour when things go wrong. This must really rile the Labour leadership but they can't pull out of the coalition because they'll lose their precious allowances and they've already given up their day jobs. Matt Davies seems a decent chap (for a Tory) but doesn't seem to be able to deliver the fatal blow when needed. Its all very depressing and if the latest revelations are true then its also rotten to the core.
Chris Duran is right (by the way Chris it wasn't me calling for a cross party alliance). The ordinary Labour Party members are kept in the dark until news breaks in the WF Guardian. If they ask any questions or dare to scrutinise their elected representatives they are labelled as trouble makers or even threatened with expulsion. The hefty Cabinet allowances mean that councillors often give up their day job as soon as they get into the Cabinet and daren't rock the boat in case they lose their lucrative position. Backbench councillors meanwhile are either kept in the dark or are too stupid to understand what's going on or are too scared to speak up because they hope that one day they too might make it to the dizzy heights of Cabinet or earn the Leader's patronage in some way - maybe by becoming Mayor. Meanwhile the Lib Dems are in a cosy coalition with a share of the power (and salary) but Macklin's clever enough to deflect the blame onto Labour when things go wrong. This must really rile the Labour leadership but they can't pull out of the coalition because they'll lose their precious allowances and they've already given up their day jobs. Matt Davies seems a decent chap (for a Tory) but doesn't seem to be able to deliver the fatal blow when needed. Its all very depressing and if the latest revelations are true then its also rotten to the core. Fedupwithitall

11:17am Sun 31 Jan 10

jrp says...

Janet1 wrote:
I don't imagine they're all corrupt, WFBond. What matters is that elected councillors are meant to be running the show. That's what they're paid for. If anything goes wrong they're meant to be poking their noses in and finding out why.

The fact is that they've sat back meekly, year after year, and let council officers (if that's who is to blame) get away with multi-million dollar mismanagement.

All of this has been dragged to light by Nick Tiratsoo, an ordinary local resident. He's been working on this for years, posting information on the WF Guardian site as he goes along. It isn't some shocking unexpected revelation that's taken councillors by surprise. They should have been digging away at this pit themselves as soon as he had alerted them.

That's why they're not innocent bystanders. By letting the scandal continue when they knew what was going on -- by letting wrong-doers knew they could continue in safety -- the councillors share the blame.
It is a clear fact that these 'elected' people chose to sit there with their fingers up their backsides ignoring what was being said to them for years,because they took the attitude of, 'what can one or two local residents do' Now it has come home to roost, Loakes, Robbins, Pye and the rest of the tainted bunch are still sitting there thinking they are untouchable. They thought this before and came unstuck. I cannot wait to see them fall on their face. I have celebrations already planned when it happens.
[quote][p][bold]Janet1[/bold] wrote: I don't imagine they're all corrupt, WFBond. What matters is that elected councillors are meant to be running the show. That's what they're paid for. If anything goes wrong they're meant to be poking their noses in and finding out why. The fact is that they've sat back meekly, year after year, and let council officers (if that's who is to blame) get away with multi-million dollar mismanagement. All of this has been dragged to light by Nick Tiratsoo, an ordinary local resident. He's been working on this for years, posting information on the WF Guardian site as he goes along. It isn't some shocking unexpected revelation that's taken councillors by surprise. They should have been digging away at this pit themselves as soon as he had alerted them. That's why they're not innocent bystanders. By letting the scandal continue when they knew what was going on -- by letting wrong-doers knew they could continue in safety -- the councillors share the blame.[/p][/quote]It is a clear fact that these 'elected' people chose to sit there with their fingers up their backsides ignoring what was being said to them for years,because they took the attitude of, 'what can one or two local residents do' Now it has come home to roost, Loakes, Robbins, Pye and the rest of the tainted bunch are still sitting there thinking they are untouchable. They thought this before and came unstuck. I cannot wait to see them fall on their face. I have celebrations already planned when it happens. jrp

1:04pm Sun 31 Jan 10

NT says...

It is interesting to speculate what is going on here. Some possibilities are as follows:

1. The CAAFT team was wrong.
Unlikely. The report was signed off by two senior managers. And it is notable that the Independent Panel then included it without demure or qualification (and incidentally without noting that 'the issue' had been 'dealt with' at the time).

2. The Cabinet did not understand what was going on.
Possible. The rules regarding procurement are straightforward and very clearly spelt out in LBWF's constitution. But I have often been surprised by how little councillors know about them. Even the previous chief executive, Mr. Roger Taylor, seemed a little hazy, for example at first telling me that the Dr Foster contract had been procured properly, when it was obvious (and later confirmed) that it had not.
On the other hand, even if Cabinet members did not follow the detail, surely they would have taken notice when advised 'you are breaking the law if you do this'?

3. Money or favours changed hands
Unlikely. Corruption is a perennial problem in local government. But there is absolutely no evidence of fraud in this case as things stand; the contract was not very big anyway; and if there was some kind of conspiracy, presumably a dozen or so people would have had to be in on it.

4. A cover up of something else.
Possible. This particular episode might have been handled as it was because it was enmeshed in something else, presumably bigger and potentially more damaging to certain parties.

Anyway, that is all speculation, and it will be interesting to see what happens next. As things stand, the current and past Leaders of the Council are accused by the Council's own anti-fraud team of knowingly breaking EU law. It is important that they respond and clear their names.
It is interesting to speculate what is going on here. Some possibilities are as follows: 1. The CAAFT team was wrong. Unlikely. The report was signed off by two senior managers. And it is notable that the Independent Panel then included it without demure or qualification (and incidentally without noting that 'the issue' had been 'dealt with' at the time). 2. The Cabinet did not understand what was going on. Possible. The rules regarding procurement are straightforward and very clearly spelt out in LBWF's constitution. But I have often been surprised by how little councillors know about them. Even the previous chief executive, Mr. Roger Taylor, seemed a little hazy, for example at first telling me that the Dr Foster contract had been procured properly, when it was obvious (and later confirmed) that it had not. On the other hand, even if Cabinet members did not follow the detail, surely they would have taken notice when advised 'you are breaking the law if you do this'? 3. Money or favours changed hands Unlikely. Corruption is a perennial problem in local government. But there is absolutely no evidence of fraud in this case as things stand; the contract was not very big anyway; and if there was some kind of conspiracy, presumably a dozen or so people would have had to be in on it. 4. A cover up of something else. Possible. This particular episode might have been handled as it was because it was enmeshed in something else, presumably bigger and potentially more damaging to certain parties. Anyway, that is all speculation, and it will be interesting to see what happens next. As things stand, the current and past Leaders of the Council are accused by the Council's own anti-fraud team of knowingly breaking EU law. It is important that they respond and clear their names. NT

4:26pm Sun 31 Jan 10

chris duran says...

Janet1 wrote:
chris duran wrote: Tom Thumb hits the nail on the head in his latest post, but your attack on the local Labour Party is unfair. As you went on to say later, even the majority of Councillors are kept in the dark these days. You can be sure that the local members won't have known any more than you did. As for Fedupwithitalls hope for a cross party alliance including untainted Labour Councillors, I can promise you that any Labour Cuncillor who puts loyalty totheir consituents above that to theirleaders will be isolated and prevented from standing next time. As we have recently seen, councillors who put loyalty to their leader first are protected by the party's ruling officials. So local party members have no power to remove them
My sympathy for the unknowing councillors is much reduced by the large allowances (minimum £10,000, and most are on a great deal more) each one of them accepts. I'm a freelance. If i accept money I do the work. If I can't do the work I don't accept the job. If I took the job and then found I couldn't do the work, I wouldn't expect to be paid.
Actually I didn't say I was sympathetic to any local councillors, it's ordinary unpaid party members I was defending.

However, it's hard to see what the back bench councillors could have done to prevent this latest fiasco when they are kept in the dark and have no power. That doesn't mean that I think they have delivered value for money.

I also think that Liberal Democrat Councillors have been junior partners in running this council for most of the period in question, and it's about time they started taking some responsibility.
[quote][p][bold]Janet1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]chris duran[/bold] wrote: Tom Thumb hits the nail on the head in his latest post, but your attack on the local Labour Party is unfair. As you went on to say later, even the majority of Councillors are kept in the dark these days. You can be sure that the local members won't have known any more than you did. As for Fedupwithitalls hope for a cross party alliance including untainted Labour Councillors, I can promise you that any Labour Cuncillor who puts loyalty totheir consituents above that to theirleaders will be isolated and prevented from standing next time. As we have recently seen, councillors who put loyalty to their leader first are protected by the party's ruling officials. So local party members have no power to remove them[/p][/quote]My sympathy for the unknowing councillors is much reduced by the large allowances (minimum £10,000, and most are on a great deal more) each one of them accepts. I'm a freelance. If i accept money I do the work. If I can't do the work I don't accept the job. If I took the job and then found I couldn't do the work, I wouldn't expect to be paid.[/p][/quote]Actually I didn't say I was sympathetic to any local councillors, it's ordinary unpaid party members I was defending. However, it's hard to see what the back bench councillors could have done to prevent this latest fiasco when they are kept in the dark and have no power. That doesn't mean that I think they have delivered value for money. I also think that Liberal Democrat Councillors have been junior partners in running this council for most of the period in question, and it's about time they started taking some responsibility. chris duran

12:23pm Wed 3 Feb 10

chris duran says...

I should think it's a matter for the Local Government Ombudsman, as the Standards Board says on it's web-site that it does not investigate something the Council has done or failed to do.

The trouble is that the Ombudsman only investigates when you have finished going through the Council's own complaints process, and we have seen that this authority will do everything possible to cover up.
I should think it's a matter for the Local Government Ombudsman, as the Standards Board says on it's web-site that it does not investigate something the Council has done or failed to do. The trouble is that the Ombudsman only investigates when you have finished going through the Council's own complaints process, and we have seen that this authority will do everything possible to cover up. chris duran

4:25pm Wed 3 Feb 10

Fedupwithitall says...

The Standards Board investigate Councillors' conduct and there is no worse conduct than breaking the law and it’s the Council’s own internal investigation team (CAAFT) that is declaring this breach - not only did they break the law but they "knowingly" did so.

Anyone interested in complaining should try: http://www.walthamfo
rest.gov.uk/standard
s-complaints-form.do
c
The Standards Board investigate Councillors' conduct and there is no worse conduct than breaking the law and it’s the Council’s own internal investigation team (CAAFT) that is declaring this breach - not only did they break the law but they "knowingly" did so. Anyone interested in complaining should try: http://www.walthamfo rest.gov.uk/standard s-complaints-form.do c Fedupwithitall

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