BILL HEANEY’S NOTEBOOK COLUMN
When is a bin not a bin?
That’s one of those trick questions children ask.
The answer, I am reliably informed, is when it is a waste receptacle.
And who do you think call their bins waste receptacles?
West Dunbartonshire Council, of course. They would, wouldn’t they?
The SNP administration are anxious to give us the impression that they are all for climate change. Extinction Rebellion warriors without kilts or claymores to a man – and a woman, no less.
And to portray themselves as big fans of that wee lassie, Greta Thunberg, darling of the climate change lobby, who was getting it in the ear for being alarmist from Donald Trump in Davos yesterday.
Can I suggest that one way of saving the planet would be for the Council to save paper?
The Council could do this almost immediately by calling waste receptacles by their common name – bins, even though that’s a four-letter word.
They could also do it by shortening the job titles of their officers, which would subsequently take up less space on their letterheads and and therefore less paper.
The person who prepared the report on the waste receptacles (er, bins) for today’s committee meeting to discuss buying them (the Council are at last doing their contract procurement by the rules) is Angela Wilson, Strategic Director – Transformation & Public Service Reform. That’s some title.
Megan Markel would be proud of it, as would her husband, the Earl of Dumbarton, who could use it to replace the old HRH title his granny has just deprived him of.
However, it’s probably not a title Megan would use for the credits in her upcoming movies.
And there will be plenty of upcoming movies, documentaries and advertisements carrying big bucks for the celebrities appearing in them.
Back to the bins, however, where the report title outstrips even the waste receptacles line.
This is headed – Contract Authorisation Report – Supply of Waste Receptacles
It goes on: The purpose of this report is to seek the approval of the Tendering Committee to authorise the Strategic Lead – Regulatory to conclude the award of the contract for the Supply of Waste Receptacles.
2.1 It is recommended that the Tendering Committee:
- a) Authorise the Strategic Lead Regulatory to conclude on behalf of West Dunbartonshire Council (the Council), the award of the contract for the Supply of Waste Receptacles to MGB Plastics Limited; and
- b) Note that the contract shall be for a period of two years from 01 February 2020 with an option to extend for a further two x 12 months until 31January 2024. The overall estimated value of the contract over four years is £296,000 ex VAT.
The Council has a requirement to provide, repair or replace waste receptacles to a number of properties in the West Dunbartonshire area.
For example, new-build properties or ad-hoc replacements for current properties. The two wheeled receptacles (er, bins) that are required are 140 and 240 litres for household recyclable and non-recyclable waste.
The budget for the Supply of Waste Receptacles was approved as part of wider service budgets at the West Dunbartonshire Council meeting on 27 March, 2019. This procurement exercise has been conducted in accordance with the Council’s Standing Orders and Financial Regulations and the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015 for Goods
The Supply of Waste Receptacles will contribute to the delivery of the Council’s strategic priorities by supporting the provision of efficient and effective frontline services that improve the everyday lives of residents.
This report was signed by:
Angela Wilson, Strategic Director – Transformation & Public Service Reform. 07 January 2020
The report also makes it clear there can now be no doubt that the Council has at last reintroduced carry out its procurement rules, at least for waste receptacles (er, bins).
And from the complex and lengthy correspondence in relation to these waste receptacles (er, bins), why some council officers are paid an eye-watering salary of around £100,000 a year. That’s two grand a week.
One matter of concern however is that contractors appear to be expected to give the council an official “back hander” by way of sponsorship of sports, education prizes, whatever. Even Philadelphia lawyers struggle to make that kind of money.
Now, if I were a contractor who was doing everything above board, I would simply add the cost of these gifts and inducements, which is unquestionably what they are, to the price I would charge the Council. Would that be wrong?
As for all the complexities outlined in this procedure, it would rip my knitting. Good and proper. Work expands to meet the time (and money) allocated to it.
And this report gives you an idea of how the Council’s policy of openness and transparency is being implemented fastidiously, and I don’t think.