Last November the Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham Council retreated from a proposal to scrap weekly bin collections. The proposal was abandoned after a campaign led by Cllr Charlie Dewhirst mobilised strong opposition from local residents.
Well we all make mistakes. The difficulty remains that Labour didn’t have the honesty to admit. They sought to claim the Council consultation was nothing to do with them. Instead of having the courage of apologise they dived for cover and blamed the bureaucrats – who had simply acted professionally in carrying out he orders of their political masters.
So I asked the Council:
“Whether any Cabinet Member approved the decision to hold the consultation and if so who and also whether or not the wording of the consultation was approved by any Cabinet Member and if so who.”
For a long time they refused to answer. There followed a series of email exchanges who I won’t bother you with but which fans of Yes Minister might find amusing.
Then this morning James Filus, the H&F In Touch Manager, told me:
“I am informed that the consultation was drafted by officers within the Waste service. Following a discussion with Councillor Harcourt, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport & Residents Services…”
So the implausible suggestion that council staff did the whole thing without political authority is proven to be false. If there was never any possibility of scrapping the weekly bin collections then why consult on the proposal.
Also is it really plausible that Cllr Harcourt kept the council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan and the rest of the Cabinet out of the loop? It is hardly a trivial proposal.
Either Cllr Cowan knew what was happening and authorised. Or as council leader he really has no idea what policies the council is consulting on. Neither explanation inspires confidence.