Tuesday, 29 May 2012


My blog below, highlighting the current plight of staff employed at Enterprise Managed Services (the councils outside environment services contractor) and the impact that this failing privatisation is having on our local services at least is seems stirred some people into action. Ex Independent Cllr Malcolm Mildren and myself of course could be forgiven for saying we told you so, given our single handed attempts last year to prevent NBC from signing such an obviously flawed contract, but the Chronicle and Echo and it now seems the opposition groups at the Guildhall are both belatedly waking up to the story. I am bound to say that it's a pity it has took them so long and that all three parties on the Council would have served the public better by airing their concerns with ourselves last year rather than offering slavish support to the deal and now belatedly deciding that we may just have had a point all the way along.

And so "serious questions" we are told will now be asked?, but is this a solution to the growing problem or simply a way to bide time, will they now accept that the contract is non deliverable or hold out in the hope of rescuing a few red faces by letting the contract limp on? And what will that do to protect local services already failing through a bungled and undeliverable contract? After all the Portfolio Holder responsible for the contract Cllr Jon Caswell (Con) tells us that it has nothing to do with the Council and that these are all issues for Enterprise to sort out!

Well as always, let me tell you my blog readers first, including many Cllrs who I know read the blog to catch up on the news their own Council won't reveal to them, just how bad matters have really become.

First of all it seems (unbelievably) that EMS have now decided that they miscounted the number of properties in Northampton that needed their bins collected when they first quoted for the contract (whose fault is that?) and now they want an additional £800,000 a year more from the local Council Tax payer than they originally quoted for these services alone (next we will no doubt hear that the grass is growing much quicker than anticpiated and that people are throwing far too much rubbish on the streets). This £800,000 they no doubt hope will go towards the £2.5m loss estimated by some as EMS's first years operational loss.

Secondly, on job losses (despite assurances to the contrary at the time) it seems as if the majority of 50+  staff shown the door at Westbridge in the last 12 months have come from the original Council staff who were TUPE'd across from both Councils (TUPE stands for Transfer of Undertakings, and the Protection of Employees, and is a way of protecting staff post any buy out or transfer of contracts) and these "redundancies" are not just limited to the front line, as middle managers are just as expensive in EMS's eyes as workers. Certainly both Waste Managers who transferred from Northampton Borough and Daventry District Councils have now gone, meaning all their local knowledge and expertise has gone with them!. Meanwhile replacement agency staff are still being employed on "daily" basis at Westbridge with workers turning up at 6am with their lunch boxes to hopefully be "hand picked" and told at 7am which of them have secured a days work. The rest are sent home with the Dickension term "No work today" ringing in their ears.

And what about the services themselves? Well we can all see that ourselves clearly by the uncut grass, unswept pavements and uncollected rubbish littering our streets. But to give you a clearer insight, I can "exclusively" (before the local press and politicians tell you they knew this anyway, and repeat it without naming the source) reveal that not only have the number of total refuse rounds been cut, but that all of the emergency and spare vehicles have all now been off hired to save money. This is despite the loan of £750,000 given to EMS by the council last year for new vehicles and site improvements. So now the service is being delivered in the main with an ageing fleet of trucks which are constantly breaking down mid round. And if EMS underestimated the number of homes to collect from, then how are they now collecting it with less lorries and staff than they first started with

And this causes another problem, the refuse contract rounds are now 9.5 hours long (far too long in my view for continued manual work) and the drivers all have to work to a legal limit of  9 hours driving in any one day (4.5hrs +  4.5hrs with a 45 minute break in between) or a maximum of 10 hours on two out of any 5 days if they work with an additional 45 minute  break over a 11.5 hour day. What this means to anyone with even a basic rudimentary knowledge of HGV driving regulations is that if for any reason a lorry breaks down, or the round is delayed, then there are no back up vehicles to replace any of those out of action and the drivers cannot even legally drive their wagons back to the depot without them breaking the law. The above vehicle break downs and round delays it seems are the real reason that rubbish is now left uncollected on the street at the end of every day as drivers are running out of driving time and there are no additional drivers or wagons at Westbridge to relieve them.

Meanwhile as intimated in my last post I can confirm that the Main Recycling Facility at Westbridge has all but closed its doors and rumours abound that Enterprise have plans to knock it down, and also the promised refurbishment of the current recycling facility at Daventry to begin to handle food waste has now been cancelled due to EMS saying they now have no money to afford to implement it.

It doesn't look good, in fact it's a shambles, EMS can't afford to deliver the service for the price they quoted, NBC can't afford to re tender or take the service back in house as they have "banked" the saving from their wider cuts programme, and services are deteriorating by the minute. But don't worry, we are all in this together!


  1. Tony,

    this is shocking news, I feels so much for the staff who have been sacked.


  2. Gary, me too and I also feel for those trying to hang on in there desperate to keep their employment in what are very difficult times and having to do things that they tell me they feel are dangerous and or unsustainable. If the Council had any courage it would ask for the details of all those dismissed since EMS took over the contract and together with the unions take a collective action out against EMS for breach of contract. This is a lose lose situation for the town and for the Council and someone needs to take a firm hold on what is happening and start to take action to resolve it.

  3. Tony and Gary.

    I agree with you both, and Tony you write ‘having to do things that they feel are dangerous and or unsustainable’. I was out and about yesterday and watched one lorry come along the road with the young and (I expect very fit lads) runing from bin to bin - if they are having to run (which should not be needed) then that is dangerous and is NOT sustainable once the winter and the ice comes, this is a case that needs action to resolve.


  4. Thanks for the clear and illuminating expose of whats going on. What can the ordinary citizen do? Not only is the service for which we pay deteriorating on a weekly basis, but it appears that the employees of EMS are being exploited. We have to get NCC to intervene and it's would not be acceptable for them to blame EMS for their incompetence. I don't pay my council tax to EMS I pay it to NBC

  5. Yet more excellent work by Tony and Malcom, well done sirs.




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