Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cornwall Council agrees to inquiry into waste fiasco

The demand made yesterday by Cornwall Liberal Democrats for an inquiry into the waste and recycling fiasco is gaining some traction. This morning one of the council's scrutiny committees agreed to hold an inquiry into the damage to the council's reputation.

Yesterday my colleague Jeremy Rowe wrote to the Leader of the Council asking for an apology for the failures and an inquiry into what went wrong. Jeremy's letter asked for the following:

First, that you and the council should stop pretending that these are only a few teething troubles and acknowledge that there are very large areas of Cornwall which have been failed by the new contract. Please issue a formal apology for these failures;

Second, we need to sort these problems out. I and my group have always been ready to assist in any way we can, but the pretence that there are no real problems and the lack of information is hindering moves to put the system right;

Finally, as a Council, we need to understand what went wrong. Was this a failure in preparation by either the Council or Cory? Why were so many collections missed and why could the call centre not cope? The latter is particularly important given that this is a service that we are considering selling to other public sector organisations. The waste and recycling service may be large, but it is hardly the only big contract let by this council. We need to ensure that the same chaos does not affect service changes in the future. I would therefore ask you to support my call for a full inquiry - led by the EP&E scrutiny committee - into the contract change and to ensure that officers and cabinet members make available any and all information requested by that committee.

Cabinet members are undoubtedly right when they say that there are aspects of the change which have gone extremely smoothly and we should recognise these successes. But we must also properly acknowledge the failings, apologise for them and ensure that they cannot happen again.

At today's scrutiny meeting, there was additional concern about the performance of the call centre. The corporate director who is in charge of the service said that there had been "an unprecedented number of complaints" and mentioned "up to 40,000 calls per day" (I question whether it is quite that number).

I welcome the decision to hold an inquiry and hope that the Leader of the Council will agree to provide all the information and evidence that might be needed to get to the bottom of what went wrong and to make sure that it cannot happen again.

The issue is covered on the front page of today's Western Morning News.

1 comment:

mojo90 said...

is cory going to be docked any money?