Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The £50 million claim of the council leader pre election !

In recent months in incineration circles the media story around the controversial Kings Lynn incinerator has been something of a main event ! Finally when push came to shove in that case the local council pulled out of the incinerator project with talk of a cost to the council of £30 million or so - the government are currently refusing to help out that local council.
Such a situation raises some serious questions in relation to how a council finds itself in a position where it can be trapped into a waste contract or plant procurement. When this happens it stops councils from being able to manage waste in the most sustainable way because they are locked into projects which last decades, cost millions and manage waste via inefficient forms of incineration.
Here in Derby UK we find that the suggested costs to leave a waste contract which we have between the city and county with Shanks Waste via Resource Recovery Solutions is claimed to be even higher ! In a recent media story the then leader of Derby City Council - Councillor Paul Bayliss made a claim that it would cost at least £50 million to tear up the waste contract. This was in response to members of TUSK who were standing for election in Derby.
The claims can be seen here in the Derby Telegraph article Derby Telegraph story referring to the waste project
Such claims by the then leader of Derby City Council could not go unchallenged because these were serious claims being made by the head of the city. Were these claims true ? was the leader using such scaremongering to impact on the local election result in the Sinfin and Osmaston ward - where the controversial incinerator is proposed ?
An email was sent to Councillor Bayliss on 15th May 2014

" Dear Councillor Bayliss,

In recent days you have made statements about costs of £50 million that the council face if they pulled out of the waste contract. Could you please provide the evidence to back up your claims. We ask as we consider it is important that as a council you are open and clear on this situation so that members of the public can fully understand your claims. If you are going to make a statement referring to for example the contract then please provide a copy for clarity.

I copy this to the Derby Telegraph who ran the story in relation to TUSK.

 Kind regards
Simon Bacon

It was a long wait for a reply and I had to poke Councillor Bayliss to get a response on 31st May
Mr Bayliss wasn't keen to confirm what evidence he had to back up his claims and tried to divert such questions to the new leader of the council.

" Hi
I received the e mail but I was busy with election business.
I stand my statement to cut & run from the contract & the Inter authority agreement would cost £50 million at least.
Please refer all your questions on this matter to the new Leader elect in the future.

Sent from Cllr Paul Bayliss, Alvaston ward"
I went back to Mr Bayliss after his reply
" Thanks for your reply,
I granted you time to reply noting it was election time.
I asked you to provide evidence of your claim - making such claims pre election could be seen as an attempt to impact on an election result - for this reason it is reasonable in my view to ask you for proof.
You made the claim - now back it up or we can only conclude you have no evidence which raises the question of if you made false statements while leader of Derby City Council.
Simon Bacon
Mr Bayliss responded again
We are never going to resolve this one so I think it’s best if we agree to differ.
Cllr Paul Bayliss "
Mr Bayliss was being evasive - but then he is a politician ! I went back to him yet again !
That's OK Cllr Bayliss - we will go with - ex leader of Derby City Council refuses to prove his claims that to leave the controversial waste disposal contract would cost £50 million raising the question was such a claim put forward to influence voting in the Sinfin and Osmaston ward of Derby in the recent election.

Simon Bacon"
Ever evasive Cllr Bayliss responded further
" Simon
This is a democracy, you don’t seem to like it when I disagree with you. The vote impact next time will be the same as it was a couple of weeks ago in my view.

So I wish you well.
Cllr Paul Bayliss "
It was important to highlight to Mr Bayliss that it wasn't acceptable to make claims without backing them up

" Cllr Bayliss,

What I dont like is a leader (now ex) making statements in the media that they then will not provide evidence to back up.
Simon Bacon"
Mr Bayliss responded with what is a pretty common brush off when a councillor doesn't want to talk about a situation
As I have said you and I are just going to have to differ on this.
Cllr Paul Bayliss "
I returned to Councillor Bayliss with the following
" Thanks Cllr Bayliss,
Its not about differing on something - its about being asked for proof of your claims and you not providing them - which raises the issue of were your claims factually correct when printed in the media.
Simon Bacon"
That was the last response from Councillor Paul Bayliss as I write this blog post. He has made strong claims in stories in the media about a waste project and potential costs but has consistently side stepped the core questions put to him - to prove his claims ! Did he make his claims to impact on the local election? do his claims stack up? has he proven his claims to the media before they were published?
Waste is a dirty business !