Last year Jeremy Hilton arranged for two thousand additional daffodil bulbs to be planted along Estcourt Road. He said: “It is lovely to see these daffodils sprouting and flowering. It’s a sign that Spring is on its way.”
The Liberal Democrat leader on Gloucester City Council, Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) has today called for an early end of the council’s streetcare contract with Amey PLC. The fifteen year contract is due to end on 31st March 2022 and is valued at £5.7m per year. Amey are contracted to provide street cleaning, grounds maintenance, recycling and refuse collection services.
The call by Jeremy Hilton to end the contract early, comes as councillors email inboxes have been flooded with complaints from residents about missed bin collections over the Christmas period. This follows on from a similar problem with bins not being collected last year due to insufficient drivers being employed by Amey. The quality of the street cleaning and grounds maintenance services is also problematic.
The streetcare service will be discussed at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 8th January and Jeremy Hilton will call for an ending of the contract earlier rather later and for all options to be considered, including bringing the service back in-house with a direct labour organisation.
Previously, Richard Cook the cabinet member in charge has described the contract as the worst he has ever seen.
Jeremy Hilton said: “It is time that the administration took action and cancelled the contract because of poor performance. The sooner we reorganise the streetcare services the better. I favour serious consideration to bringing the service back in-house with council employing and managing staff directly rather than through a third party. We have had a number of failures on the refuse collection service in the last twelve months, grounds maintenance is inadequate and street cleaning in Gloucester is just not good enough.”
Liberal Democrat councillors have put down a challenge to the Tories who run the city council to clean up Gloucester. On 20th July the city council will debate a motion by the Liberal Democrats calling for street cleaning to be improved. The Lib Dems are demanding details of the cleaning schedules for every street in the city so that weaknesses in the contract with Amey can be identified.
The move is coming from Kingsholm & Wotton councillors who are fed up with the council’s failure to keep the streets clean. They say that no one knows how often each street should be cleaned and litter removed.
Isabel Brazil said: “We are not at all happy with the street cleaning in Kingsholm and it is no better in other neighbourhoods near to city centre. We must know exactly how often the Amey contract says a street, footpath or open space should be cleared of litter.”
Ward colleague Jeremy Hilton agreed: “There is a distinct difference in the cleaning regime from the city centre to those areas close to the city centre. I’m fed up with seeing litter around Kingsholm and other areas in Gloucester. The Tories and their contractors are letting us down. We are demanding that the cabinet puts forward a improvement plan and lets councillors know how often each street in their ward is contracted to be cleaned.”
Motion by Jeremy Hilton seconded by Isabel Brazil
“This council agrees that the level of street cleaning could be much better than it is and that the level of cleanliness in Gloucester is not up to the standard we would expect for an historic city.
This council calls on the Cabinet Member to provide each city councillor with full details of the cleaning regime in their wards, with details of how often each street, open space and public footpath is cleaned.
This council calls on the cabinet member to provide a report on how he intends to improve street cleaning in Gloucester, looking at three zones; the city centre, edge of the city centre and the suburbs.
The Lib Dems have discovered that Tory-led Gloucester City Council has been paying £53,824 annually to Amey – the council’s streetcare contractor.
The contract with Amey’s predecessor was signed by the Conservative administration in 2007 and since then more than £500,000 has been paid.
The council or the contractors have been unable provide an accurate explanation of the payments.
Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, questioned Councillor Richard Cook, the cabinet member for the environment, over the contract. He explained the contract looked like it was written by the supplier and had no exit clause.
“I was shocked to hear that so much money has been paid over to the contractor with no-one in the Tory administration having the faintest idea what the payments were used for,” Councillor Hilton said.
“The new cabinet member Richard Cook has described the contract as the worst he has ever seen.
“He was unable to tell me what the payments were for when I questioned him at council.
“The Tories were in charge when the contract was signed. This incompetence is unbelievable.”
Councillor Hilton added: “Gloucester is suffering from Tory austerity with important local services under threat from budget cuts, rising Council Tax bills and hard working council officers losing their jobs.
“Yet the Tory administration has given Amey more than £500,000 and cannot explain what Council Tax payers in Gloucester have got back in return, beyond ‘bins’.”
Councillor Declan Wilson, deputy leader of Gloucester Lib Dems, added: “The problem of the mystery payments first came to light at the Audit Committee on January 23.
“Every year £53,824 has been paid over for ‘bins’, but no-one is able to confirm what this annual sum as been used for.
“This is incredible. For the Tory administration to hand over half a million pounds without fully understanding what it is for is astonishing.”