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(I am grateful to Fiona Cairncross for the research on which this post is largely based)

LB Hounslow contracted out the maintenance of their highways, including cleansing,  to  Vinci Ringway with effect from 1st January 2013.

The Final Business Case  dated April 2012  stated, on page 6, that it would contribute towards “a cleaner, greener borough with reduced litter…

However the Local Environment Quality Results 2013/14  report shows a worsening of the already unsatisfactory litter score in the first full year of the contract.

Enquiries and complaints from the public about highway services have escalated following the launch of the contract. I am indebted to an article by Matteo Civillini  for this information. In the first 16 months of its operations the highways service provider has received an average of 2370 enquiries and complaints per month.

The contract specifies 300 performance targets  For Cleansing  it says:

108
All cleansing activities on the Project Cleansing Network shall be to the standards and associated duties contained in the CoPLR, (Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse)  supporting legislation and other Good Industry Practice, for example (but not limited to) Keep Britain Tidy.

Core Session: 1 Day ,
Moratorium: 3 months applicable to achievement of standards
Monitoring methodology:  Inspection / Reactive
Monitoring Period:  1 month and Continuous

110
The Service Provider shall carry out cleansing activities on the Project Cleansing Network to ensure that the Authority’s score achieves “satisfactory” standard in all elements at Borough level 3 times per year and at Ward level once per year within relevant land uses in accordance with Local Environmental Quality Survey protocols of Keep Britain Tidy.

Core Session: 4 months
Moratorium:  1 year
Monitoring methodology: Inspection
Monitoring Period: 4 months

112
When a complaint requiring remedial action has been received, action shall be completed within the timescale specified in the CoPLR, or within 1 day of receipt of notice whichever is the shorter.

Core Session: 1 day
Moratorium:  0
Monitoring methodology: Reactive
Monitoring Period: Continuous

Lets look at each of these in turn.

108 – CoPLR, (Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse) does not say how frequently each category of road needs to be cleaned. In other words no inputs are defined. It follows that the council cannot directly check whether the contractor is committing sufficient resources to the contract.

The council should be able to say ” you are supposed to clean this High St by 8.00 am every morning – you are not doing so. We are therefore deducting £x from your payment this month”.

110 – I will need to do more research to find out what all this means. In the meantime waht we can say is that, on a Borough wide basis, the standard is not being met.

112 – CoPLR does set response times when land becomes defaced. But how does the council monitor that the standard is being achieved by the contractor.

The Final Business Case says that  Rebecca Mastrogiannis has been appointed as the Head of Client Management. It goes on to say:

The Output Specification will be the prime reference document for contract management and the monitoring function. The Output Specification has now been fully developed and contains approximately 300 Performance Targets, which sit under 13 different Performance Standards. Vinci-Ringway have demonstrated in their final bid how all Performance Standards will be achieved. Specified standards reflect current LBH standards and will be kept in line with latest guidance, legislation and good practice recommendations, during the course of the contract.

In general, Vinci-Ringway will be responsible for self reporting against service performance, but the client contract management team will work in partnership to monitor and verify outputs.

Contract Management Plan which is located at Appendix 20

However the Appendices are all missing from the document on the council web site.

Phrases like “Vinci-Ringway will be responsible for self reporting against service performance” worry me. It sounds as if they are allowed to mark their own homework.  Also, what standards are they self reporting against.

See my freedom of information request to Hounslow Borough Council

Peter Silverman
2nd February 2015

 

 

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