Tonight's meeting about why Ealing Council and its contractor, Enterprise, had a full public gallery (not the norm).
I handed in a large petition from residents all across Ealing who were totally annoyed that the service the Council provides, was not for many weeks in April. I reported that one road had not had its waste collected for three weeks. It was only collected when I contacted the Council's CEO - he then arranged for the waste to be collected the next day, a Sunday! It should not have taken the CEO to be involved.
My party demanded that both Ealing Council and Enterprise should be scrutinised at a public council meeting. What the Labour-run administration stated, was a half-baked alternative - to have a report presented at the next Cabinet meeting which almost no discussion is allowed - was acceptable. Clearly this is not acceptable. Essentially this will be a rubber stamping exercise.
The strange logic that the Labour Council Leader and his environmental side kick, Cllr Bassam Mahfouz, was that it was okay to attack the contractor 100% for failing and then apologising for the mistakes made. If the contractor was totally to blame then surely the Ealing Council Leader should not be apologising?
During the meeting it became apparent that the new contractor would not have bought the correct number of vehicles in time for when the contract started. If I had been the top Council officer I would have been more sceptical and really challenged Enterprise to prove they would be able to collect Ealing's waste from day one.
Another matter that I raised was that when the fiasco (the term was accepted and repeated by the Labour party) began residents were not communicated to properly. Most residents do not read Ealing Council's twitter feed or their web site. But I suggested that the Council should have emailed Residents Association chairs and Street-watchers who might be able to spread news about the issue and what the Council was advising residents to do. It did not do this and so clearly left itself open to people guessing and spreading comment.
Also I am awaiting to see how much time was wasted by Ealing Council staff dealing with this fiasco. I have asked for details of what actions and meetings occurred before the contact started to get more of a picture of how much effort Ealing spent in trying to ensure the new contractor could fulfil its pledges.
Later in the debate Cllr Bassam Mahfouz the Councillor in charge of recycling and waste collection said he was a "solutions man". Many in the Council meeting laughed as it was a claim that appears to have been made when still many streets in West Ealing are not having their waste collected on time. Offering solutions that do not work is the same as failing.
Our amendment to have a full and public review attracted the support of the Conservative party but the Labour administration put their head in the sand and voted down the proposal. A sad day. When a Council makes a mistakes it should look to review what it did (or not did) so to ensure this cannot happen again. Without a review this event might well happen again.
The new contractor started on April 1st, and since then Ealing has been made to look like fools!