Buy Cheap, Pay Twice – Swindon Dial A Ride Probably A Bargain at £331,000 p.a

Rod Bluh & his Tory Chums definitely seem to ‘have it in’ for the Swindon Dial A Ride operators and once again ‘secret legal advice’ lurks somewhere behind Bluhs actions like a particularly warty toad.

Western Ward Councillor Des Moffatt once again sticks his head above the parapet of the Civic and sheds a little more light on the way Swindons Tories conduct themselves.

Swindon Borough Councillor Des Moffatt says:

“The recent history of Swindon Council’s attitude to Swindon Dial a Ride service is as follows.

For whatever reason Council Officers decided to have a review of the service yet had failed in their duty to attend any of SDAR board/management meeting for over two years when what SDAR were doing would have been crystal clear to them.

This review entitled Value for Money Review 2009 dated 5th October 2009 which I have read is pants in my opinion. It contains unspecified legal advice recommending a cessation of the Grant.

It was this report which appears to have triggered the proposed reduction of £50k in grant aid contained in Swindon Borough Council’s draft budget and was opposed by all and subsequently dropped, or at least appeared to be have been dropped.

Swindon Dial a Ride did respond in detail to the V f M report and it is here we note that SDAR had been denied access to officers to discuss a service level agreement and much else ever since 2006.

SDAR also provided independent legal advice at that time to the effect that grant aid for a registered charity involved in the transport and care of disabled people did not come under Article 87 of the EU treaty; again I have a copy of that advice.

Most of us relaxed when the Conservative group amendment to a labour resolution at the Full Council meeting of 6th January 2009 was unamious.

Meanwhile someone was beavering away in the background sharpening the knives but keeping a low profile until the election was safely out of the way.

The first the Labour Group knew and indeed I suspect most members of the Council knew of the decision to submit the service to a full tender regime was when the special PAG meeting agenda was published.

My own first reaction was to challenge the legal advice and Council Officials supplied it to me after checking at the highest level that it was OK to do that. I was astounded that it was dated 25th January 2010; clearly indicating that the issue had been “sat on”.

I am not at liberty to divulge the contents save to say that I regard the advice as having been ‘invited’.

The particular regulation referred to is http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:315:0001:0013:EN:PDF

Should you read it you will discover as I have that it refers exclusively to public passenger transport and it goes without saying that Dial a Ride exists because some people can not use public transport.

I have said to the Labour Group and I am quite clear about it, it would be a bold elected Councillor indeed who ignored such advice. Should the Council fail now to proceed to tender and a disgruntled alternative operator chose to contest the grant award and win, Councillors would arguably be personally liable, jointly and severally, now there’s a phrase to conjure with.

We are where we are and I am content that some Tory members will seek to protect the service by ensuraning that any tender document is not tweaked and that SDAR gets a fair chance to compete despite it’s unseen enemies.

The PAG process is in stages and to say PAG passed it misrepresents what PAG is about. Cabinet and Lead Members make the decisions on behalf of the Council, Procurement Advisory Group is tasked with ensuring the Council receives the best service for the most competitive price. Quality of service matters and so does the unintended consequences that might be missed by others, penny wise and pound foolish some call it.”

Des Moffatt

Thanks Des.  Swindons electorate certainly appreciates your honesty.  Bluh certainly won’t.

I hope you keep it up……

Posted on
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Filed under:
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