Their claim that the change is “green” is also dubious – as noisy diesel generators need to be running the whole time to run the water heater and the pumps.
But what about the cost?
I have asked the Council:
“Please advise the annual spending on removing weeds from pavements in the borough for 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17 and the budget for the this service for the current financial year.”
The reply from the Waste Contract Manager
“I’m afraid the information regarding the annual spend on removing weeds from pavements cannot be provided due to commercial sensitivity by virtue of paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.”
I have responded:
“I wish to formally request this information under the Environmental Information Regulations. The exemption you cite under Schedule 12A is not an exception under the EIR provisions. Any potential exception under EIR is also subject to a public interest test. Disclosure will be in the public interest since (a) it relates to the spending of
council taxpayers’ money, and (b) it will help inform public debate and democratic scrutiny of the council’s functions on protecting local amenity and the local environment.
“There is no legitimate economic interest in refusing to disclose this information and there is no tangible harm that would be realistically caused to the council by revealing its annual spending on controlling weeds. I note that the total spending on individual contractors is already public by virtue of the spending data which must be published by the council under the statutory (DCLG) Transparency Code and therefore does not have any quality of confidence.
“Indeed, the Transparency Code states: “The Government has not seen any evidence that publishing details about
contracts entered into by local authorities would prejudice procurement exercises or the interests of commercial organisations” – this is clearly guiding when assessing the public interest under the EIR provisions.”
Maybe they will eventually give me the figures. Maybe they won’t. But it’s pretty likely that the costs have gone up by rather a lot, isn’t up? Common sense would suggest that and their obstruction in disclosing the cost to the Council Taxpayer would seem to confirm it.
So Labour rule means more weeds, at a higher cost and with more pollution.