This is where the contents of Vale of Gloamorgan blue bags end up - Casepak's recycling facility in Leicester

This is where 12,000 tonnes of recyclable material from the  Vale of Glamorgan’s 55,000 households ends up every year  – Casepak’s recycling facility in Leicester

The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s  managers exposed the local authority to “unacceptable levels of risk”  on its contracted-out recycling (blue bag) service – according to a scathing report by the council’s own Head of Audit.

On March 10th 2014 the Vale’s so-called “cabinet” – then comprising seven senior councillors –   approved the award of a three-year contract for the processing of what it calls “Co-Mingled Recyclable Materials”  [stuff like newspapers and packaging that people put in blue bags for kerbside collection] to a Leicester-based firm, Casepak Ltd.

Cllr Rob Curtis (Labour Gibbonsdown Ward, Barry)

Cllr Rob Curtis (Labour Gibbonsdown Ward, Barry) quit the Vale Council’s ‘cabinet’ in February 2015

The deal was that Casepak took all the 12,000 tonnes of material gathered every year from 55,000 Vale householders  back to their “Materials Recycling Facility” and would extract 95% of it for recycling.

Cllr Rob Curtis (Labour Gibbonsdown) – at the time the ‘cabinet’ Member for the Environment and Visible Services –  issued a press statement saying how pleased he was to be “working in partnership with Casepak” .

Because it was now very urgent to get the new contractor started, the ‘cabinet” invoked the Vale Council’s so-called “urgent decision procedure”  so that work could begin on the required start date of 1st April 2014.

…But – despite all that – no one in the Vale Council saw to it that the vitally important “urgent” contract with Casepak was actually signed.

In October 2014, when the Vale’s internal audit department checked-up, they found there was still  no formal contract in place – despite the fact that the operation had already been running for 7 months.

In December 2014 the Vale’s audit department issued a “Limited Assurance report ” – drawing the council’s manager’s attention to the problem. The council managers wrote back assuring the auditors everything was just fine and  a formal contract would be in place in the “immediate future”  – with an “implementation date of December 2014”.

…But nothing happened .

In February 2015 Cllr Rob Curtis resigned from the ‘cabinet’ claiming that he “found it a struggle to juggle my commitments with that and the NHS”  -[ but see PDN ]

 Cllr Gwyn John Llantwit First Independents

Cllr Gwyn John (Llantwit First Independents)

On March 4th 2015 the full Vale of Glamorgan Council was informed that  Cllr Curtis’s responsibilities – which included recycling and waste management – would be shared amongst the remaining members of the ‘cabinet’ .

Specifically, Cllr Curtis’s former waste management and recycling portfolio would become the responsibility of Cllr Gwyn John (Independent Llantwit Major) who was designated as “Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services”

In April 2015 the auditors carried out a follow-up review. They found 12 months after the start of operations the long-awaited contract with Casepak was  still not in place.

Yet another “Limited Assurance” report was made  – reflecting that all was not well in the organisation.  Yet again the council’s managers were asked just what was going on.

….Another eight months elapsed.

Not until December 18th 2015 was a formal contract for the recycling service eventually signed – with an implementation date of  January 2016 – a full 20 months after the service had actually started .

The Head of Audit says in his scathing report – “It is without doubt that the failure to secure a signed and legally binding contract has exposed the Council to unacceptable levels of risk. .. Some of the possible risks could include but are not limited to: inadequate performance, operational dispute; charging issues; reputational damage; future service delivery and health and safety.”

"Somebody's got to do it". The contents of recycling bags being manually sorted

“Somebody’s got to do it“. The Casepak workers who un-mingle your “co-mingled” recycling

Luckily for the Vale Council, and its tardy managers, none of the possible contractual difficulties actually did arise. Despite not having a contract, Casepak had cracked-on with the job and did everything it was supposed to.  But if a problem had arisen, the Vale Council wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on .

Now – “to ensure that this situation cannot occur again” the council’s internal audit department will  “review all other Waste Contracts and a sample of cross directorate contracts” – just in case there are more black holes to be found in the council’s administration.

Meanwhile the council’s internal  auditors have also been investigating another mystery  – the “apparent loss of a significant number of commercial blue bags “.

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  1. AK says:

    Well spotted the eagle eyed auditor !

    Purchase anything you like, and get it invoiced as the ubiquitous bin bags. Dim problem.

  2. Johnabutt says:

    The Auditor did his job, but I bet none of the paid managers who should have followed up on the audit report got sacked.

  3. Tim Gould says:

    This is the trouble with KPI’s and targets, it causes perverse behavior.
    Did you know the green garden waste accounts for the vast majority of the recycling tonnage.
    Trucks picking garden waste, driving it to depots, mulching it and then redistributing it.
    If you have garden waste you have a garden, compost it and stop this madness!!

  4. Christopher David says:

    What does the VOG’s “cabinet” (hah) and MFI have in common? One shoddy plan and the whole “cabinet” falls down.

  5. Jonnyoneye says:

    If this type of thing had occurred in virtually any other industry, those responsible would have been relieved of their positions and probably sacked all together for being liabilities to the company they worked for. With the VoG, no doubt nothing will happen as usual.
    Most companies that I work with, would have driven a coach and horses through a not-agreed-and-signed contract such as this one and it is to Casepak’s credit that they did not…..assuming that they spotted the omission of course 🙂

  6. Martin gossage says:

    Is it just me but I thought the commingled was metal , plastic etc aswell .either way where does the plastic and cans etc go to.?

  7. Aahjnnot says:

    To be fair, the risk to the Vale was probably rather lower than this article suggests. I’m not a lawyer, but I understand that there’s a presumption in law that two commercial entities who trade with each other do so with an intention to create a legal relationship. The courts would usually take the last draft contract as expressing that intent. Some losse ends would undoubtedly remain, but the chances of those being legally important would be quite low. Besides, it’s extraordinarily rare for a contractual dispute to wind up in court.

    In my experience in the commercial world, it’s very common to trade for weeks or even months while the final contractual details are being sorted out.

    • AK says:

      That maay well be true in the commercial world, but not in the world of local government where taxpayers money is at risk.

      Window cleaning contract for large tower block

      ‘Cleaning of all external glazing’

      Winning contractor cleans the outside of all external windows.

      Client: But what about the insides ?

      Contractor: Hahahaha

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