Sunday, February 27, 2011

Is this the most expensive public convenience in Britain?

The other day I blogged about the Leicester Mercury report revealing that Harborough District Council is paying contractors £53,000 a year (not including Labour costs) to clean the public conveniences on the Commons car park in Market Harborough.

The Harborough Mail also has the story:
in just 20 minutes the Mail was able to obtain estimates for the same job from three separate cleaning firms, all of which came in at under £25,000, based on a full-time cleaner working seven days-a-week.

A director of one of the firms, who asked to remain anonymous, described the £53,000 figure as ‘horrendous’ while another said it would be a ‘dream contract’.
What would be a fair figure? Judge for yourself. The Commons loos are shows in the photograph above.

When, in an earlier life, I was a member of Harborough District Council myself, it seemed to be generally well regarded. If I met someone socially who had had business dealings with the council, I was usually told that is was efficient and good to work with.

So it pains me to see the council turning into a bit of a joke. The words of "a council spokesman", as quoted in the Harborough Mail, say it all - "The cleansing cost of £53,000 for the Commons Car Park toilets/baby changing facilities is straight from the contract as the tendered figure. This is the amount that the contractor put in the tender to provide the specified service."

Or does this accurately reflect the powerlessness of a small district council when faced with a large private contractor?

The Harborough Mail also quotes someone from the Taxpayers' Alliance. This is not a group I have a lot of time for - I am a taxpayer and they have never consulted me.

Still, it is amusing to see Harborough Tories fall foul of another of its natural supporters. They were attacked by Conservative Home and the Daily Mail when they cancelled an appearance in town by Father Christmas and his reindeer because it had snowed.

Please add your own elf and safety joke here.

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