What will be the next Excuse?
If the residents of Northampton believe the Borough Council Leadership they will currently be experiencing the fantastic improvement in the environment across the Borough with reduced fly tipping and a fewer missed waste collections.
We are told that things have dramatically improved through the implementation of draconian fines and penalties amounting to over £250,000 levied against the company who have the contract for waste collection.
The administration’s response to Labour questions over the last 18 months has seen the Conservatives accuse us of talking the town down and that the service was improving through the direct action taken by the ‘supercharged’ Leader of the Borough Council who it seems personally intervened and insisted that the contract manager of Enterprise be changed.
It turns out of course that there is no evidence that the fines and penalties have been implemented.
In fact I am told that they couldn’t be levied because of the way the contract was drawn up.
So why did the Conservative Cabinet Member and his Deputy say that the fines and penalties had been applied?
Was it simply another example of the Conservatives intentionally avoiding admitting that the contract is failing?, or perish the thought that they said something off the cuff and now have to try to make it true?
It is something we will be able to ask Cllr Hallam the new Cabinet member for the Environment services who as the Deputy for the past 18 months we are told was fully involved in the improvements to the service the Conservatives claim to have made.
The problem with all of this is of course that while the Conservative spin and PR from the Guildhall says one thing it bears absolutely no relationship with the reality that people across Northampton have to live with day in day out.
Last year I reported and had 630 cases of fly tipping and missed collections of rubbish removed all I add with photographic evidence because apparently the administration bizarrely thought I was making it up.
What was apparent by taking the photographs and reporting incidents on a Sunday is that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to distinguish between fly tipping and missed collections.
This of course is to the Conservatives advantage because they can blame it all on the minority of residents who fly tip which means they don’t have to record them as ‘missed collections’.
The problems for our communities are two-fold.
Firstly there is the issue of the condition and state of our estates and neighbourhoods that we live in, and secondly, the tax payers have to pay for a service that is not only second-rate but getting worse.
It really is a case of the tax payer having to pay more to receive less.
I’d be the first to congratulate the Conservatives if they have finally got a grip of the problem but the evidence indicates that they haven’t and in fact in the last six months I’ve already reported over 620 cases of fly tipping or missed collections and had them removed. If this continues 1,000 reports is a distinct possibility by the end of this year.
So the evidence is there, things are deteriorating not improving.
Evidence that transferring services from Local control to private profit-making organisations is not always the answer and especially if you compound the problem by not managing the contract.
As Northampton enters the third year of the contract any more excuses for failing to keep our streets and communities clear of rubbish will be seen for what they are.
Last year it was the weather that was to blame.
We will have to wait to see what or who the Conservatives blame this year.