Monday, April 26, 2010

Harborough Tories block scrutiny of waste contract

You may remember that it transpired last month that Harborough District Council had been breaking its own rules by allowing its waste collectors Focsa to operate without a signed contract and without a bank bond indemnifying the council against any loss should it go out of business.

Now, reports the Harborough Mail:

A scrutiny panel meeting to discuss Harborough District Council's controversial decision to enter into a £25.9million waste contract without it being properly signed or backed by a bank bond is being delayed due to the General Election.

A briefing note was sent to district councillors and officers last Wednesday saying the scrutiny meeting scheduled for April 29 would now be postponed due to the 'purdah' period.

Purdah, more commonly-known as the pre-election period, is a term used in UK politics to describe the time between an announced election and the final election result. During the period, civil servants have to abide by a strict code of practice so they are not seen to be acting in any way party-politically.

This sounds very odd to me.

I am happy to be corrected, but as I read this briefing note from the House of Commons the period of purdah during a general election it applies only to national government. Local authorities do recognise a period of purdah, but only during their own local elections.

There are no local elections this year in Harborough.

So is the Conservative-run Harborough District Council finding tenuous grounds for postponing examination of its conduct for fear it will embarrass the party during the general election? I think we should be told.

You will also note that a meeting at County Hall to discuss Focsa's planning application for its depot in Welham Lane, Great Bowden - yes, they have been operating without planning permission too - was disrupted when the fire alarm was set off.

Remarkably convenient. That's all I will say.

1 comment:

Ian Ridley said...

Certainly the Holyrood Parliament is not observing purdah. If Scotland don't why should Harborough DC?

I note that our Tory MP has chosen to fight dirty and negatively in the A4 leaflet that was delivered to me today. It's the first time I can remember the Tories doing that here.

It is also the first time we look like we could really win.

Methinks they are Rattled