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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The street lighting contract

Finally, the legal action between Iain Crichton and the Comhairle has come to a conclusion, and the Council have lost.

This all arose in 1996 when the contract was awarded under 'strange' circumstances to the Council DSO.

Although Mr Crichton submitted the second lowest tender by a few thousand pounds, the tenders did not appear to be on a like-for-like basis, and crucially the DSO ignored the costs of TUPE and some capital expenditure.

Some Councillors moved that it be awarded to the existing contract holder (item 83), but this was defeated on the casting vote of the Vice-Chair, who was in the Chair. Before it could be discussed at Policy and Resources or at full Council it was accepted on the instructions of the then Vice-Convener when he became aware of a likely challenge to the award.

Chickens have now come home to roost, but the fox has retired, as has virtually everyone else directly involved in this scandalous decision.

This left Mr Crichton struggling to ensure his business survived, after being improperly, unfairly and maliciously treated in an attempt by a Councillor to build a Soviet-style power base around the DSO.

With the ever changing panoply of Council lawyers fighting a rear-guard action and the Council stalling, prevaricating and failing to release all documentation to Mr Crichton in the hope he would go away or go bankrupt, the inevitable has now happened.

If someone else doesn't ask exactly how much this has cost the Council, then I will.

Many businesses in the Western Isles have the view that the creeping nationalisation of every business by the Council has not slowed since then; indeed the distrust in the ability of the private sector - or more accurately the LOCAL private sector - to deliver services is the underlying principle on which the Council operates.

That may be harsh, but perception is the truth in the eyes of many people.

One again, the Council run buses have run at a loss - have they ever run at a profit??? - after winning a contract that, er, significantly undercut the existing operators but omitted some of the overheads in calculating the operating costs. Sound familiar?

Nurseries are being absorbed into the management of the Council through a series of (entirely co-incidental!) delays in making payments for free places, and though increased demands from the local regulators. Hourly rates have risen and available places dropped as a consequence.

I regularly argued for removing many services from the control of the Council during my time there, but the fear of being responsible for 'job losses' meant I was almost totally unsuccessful. That the 'jobs' would be transferred to the private sector was irrelevant, when there are empires to be built.

Thankfully, not all departments operated like that, despite pressure to do so, and I hope that the Council can now use this disaster as an opportunity to review WHY the Council does what the Council does.


Anonymous said...

After all the hassle, and all the false accusations, and all the lies and deceit, and all the 'pressure' some were deliberately put under because they dared to stand up for the truth, and because they dared to oppose 'the system', I'm sure you expected me to be right behind you, if not right by your side in finding out the cost of all this! At last, justice is done.

Anonymous said...

There are many good people employed by the Comhairle, doing tremendous work for our community. However, what happened to Iain Crichton and to others, exposes the rottenness in parts of the authority. The good thing is that the 'baddies' sometimes lose. I cannot decide whether to label this performance as 'malevolent incompetence' or 'incompetent malevolence'. Perhaps both apply!

I don't grudge Iain a penny of the settlement but the money that the Comhairle wasted trying to defend the indefensible, could have been put to better use.

Anonymous said...

How come the DSO are now tendering for all the age concern work throughout the islands and getting it all. They are under cutting all the local contractors by huge amounts and doing the work at a loss. How can they do this and surrvive? You see up to three vans at a house sometimes for two weeks when a local contractor would take a few days. No wonder there is no money in the kitty foe repairs???