Kilburn councillor claims he is being ostracised for saving Brent Council up to £2m
PUBLISHED: 06:45 01 July 2015
A Labour councillor claims he has been ostracised by his colleagues for exposing a flaw he says could have seen the council give away up to £2million to a private contractor.
Cllr John Duffy noticed a costly clause in Brent Council’s environmental report that allowed its contractor Veolia to pocket the surplus money raised above the town hall’s target from the controversial ‘green tax’.
The £40-a-year levy for the collection of garden waste was introduced in April.
The council set an initial target of raising £400,000 from the charge which it quickly smashed after 17,000 households signed up in three months.
This meant that out of the total £680,000 raised by those households signing up, £280,000 could have had to be handed over to Veolia.
If every single one of the 70,000 eligible households in the borough signed up the amount raised would rise to £2.4m meaning Veolia would have been entitled to £2m.
He said: “That report should never have seen the light of day. You cannot give a subsidy to a contractor.
“I’ve worked in environmental policy for years reading contracts all day so it took me two seconds reading the report to know this can’t go through, it’s wrong and time was running out on me.
“I went to the legal person who said it was lawful but as soon as I went to the chief financial officer it took him five minutes and he spotted it. Once I raised it with him everything began to change.
He added: “It was a dreadful deal, a double edged sword where we would have to pick up the disposal levy after it was taken to landfill but they (council officers) resisted it and resisted it.
“You just can’t throw that money away.”
Since he highlighted the clause it has since been amended however he claims he has been accused of bullying by one cabinet member for “not letting the matter drop”, ostracised by his peers, and forbidden to sit on any committees.
However Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, denied that the cash would go to Veolia, whose contract is valued at £16m a year for nine years with a seven year extension.
He said: “Maybe it was an error on a draft report but it went to cabinet with the proper finances checked up. Veolia was never ever going to receive that money. They are our provider of that service.”
He added the money would go towards disposals to landfill, costing £116 each time, which he admitted had reduced since the green tax take-up.
Of the millions potentially generated by the tax he said: “I won’t say it’s a profit, it’s making us a saving.”
Adding that Cllr Duffy was not being ostracised. “Absolutely not…Brent Council is democratic, he can go to any meetings he likes.”
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