Times & Star Politics Column - 6th September 2019

Below is Councillor Mark Jenkinson's politics column in this week’s  Times & Star.

"This is the first opportunity I’ve had following the announcement that all recycling collections are to be reinstated on the September 9,to thank everybody for their patience. It’s been a difficult time working through options to ensure that every household received their weekly waste collection, and then through options for full service restoration.

You will have read that when we took control, 7 weeks after the service failed, there was no signed contract - and that the contractor had been allowed to carry on without one. Anyone familiar with contract law will know the minefield that creates.

The previous Executive naively bought into the savings to be made by accepting the sole tender. They will have been buoyed by the same contractor having emptied our bins for over 20 years, but they failed in assessing the deliverability of the proposals with all the changes put forward.

Be assured that we will publish a full lessons learned review.

Whatever happens there is a cost - in picking up after a failed tender, in ensuring it doesn't happen again, and in taking legal action.

Being a council, most of our costs are borne by taxpayers - that's why one of our major drivers going forwards will be self-sufficiency, using our assets to generate as much of our own income as we possibly can.

The synergies we will see from working more closely with our neighbours and partners will pay dividends, and we're already seeing what breaking down political barriers for the benefit of residents can achieve.

For 8 years Council tax in Allerdale has risen by the maximum allowable - at times even refusing to take a government grant to freeze it, because government wore the wrong colour rosette.

My group fought an election on freezing council tax, and we'll continue with that aim.
Poor decisions like the bins contract, or spending over £1m on flawed stadium plans, don't help that fight. Signing up to a £95m PFI scheme that could have seen us with a £3.5m annual lease payment on a 50 year old stadium with no rental income could certainly have bankrupted the council. A £250,000 penalty clause for 3 Rugby League World Cup games, and potentially buying 4,000 tickets that don't exist (because our stadium was too small) would have only added to financial pressures.

For context, last year’s maximum council tax rise generated £150,000.

But there have been no discussions about increasing council tax for bins or anything else. [Council tax requirements will come from a budget agreed by ALL 49 COUNCILLORS in February.(removed in editing)

Allerdale Borough Council is already on a better, more focused trajectory that will deliver better services, better use of assets and efficiencies for taxpayers – and I’m really excited by what the next four years will bring."