Friday, 10 September 2010

"We Haven't Employed Any Consultants on This"..."Oh, You Mean THOSE Consultants..."

Further to previous posts about NCC's lifts and such, I'm managing to slowly wring little bits of information out about what's been going on, although there's a way to go yet.

The backstory is here. I decided to do a FoIA to find about costs and savings both before and after the decision to axe the lift maintenance team as part of the 2009 cuts and we've got as far as we can with NCC here. I will almost certainly be going to the Information Commissioner on parts of this one and I will have to look at the figures they provided to see if there's a story in there but I want to write up one aspect of the affair now.

One of the things I'd asked about was whether any consultants had been engaged to do any of the work previously done by the lift team. As part of an interim response on 27 July I got a fairly unequivocal reply as follows -

"6) Request a copy of any decision to employ any consultants to undertake any work previously carried out by the lift maintenance team, or advice as to where to find it if it is already publicly available?

No such decision had been made as of the date of this request, therefore in accordance with section 1 of this act copy documentation cannot be provided as it is not held by this authority."

So, that's clear then, no consultants being used.

Trouble is I'd received a tip off that a firm called Dunbar and Boardman had been hired to cover for the lifts so I thought this was odd. After a bit of prompting I got this today and here's what it says about consultants -

"In response to your additional supplementary comments with regards to Dunbar and Boardman, I can confirm that following the incident at Victoria Centre flats, Nottingham City Home (NCH) no longer wished to manage Nottingham City Councils lifts. As a result, Dunbar and Boardman were appointed. NCH will however maintain responsibility for their own lifts."

Oh, and did I mention that they'd also denied any accidents happening in lifts in the interim response? -

"5) Please will you provide the numbers of accidents involving lifts for each year to date and going back as far as the records referred to in #s 1-4?

Our Safety Advisors Unit have confirmed that no accidents have occurred involving lifts for which Nottingham City Council are responsible."

The bit I will definitely be taking further is the claim that no copy of the decision to employ Dunbar and Boardman is held because that's self-evident bollocks. This would be a fairly pricy contract and somebody somewhere must have made a decision about it, either an officer under delegated powers or a portfolio holder decision being most likely.

So the upshot of this is that somebody somewhere in the line of information provision initially told a direct lie and I reckon is still holding out on another one. I've said before that when dodginess of this type occurs I don't blame the Information Governance staff, they rely on what they're told by the originating department and that's where the fault lies.

Perhaps more importantly, in 2009 somebody decided to axe the Lift Maintenance team which didn't really appear to be costing very much and little more than a year later a serious accident occurs in an NCC lift. Suddenly NCC are employing outside consultants and handily (and allegedly) nobody has kept a copy of the decision on that so I haven't (so far) been able to establish how much lift maintenance is costing us now.

The 'workforce reductions' in 2009 were about saving money. How's that going then?


Anonymous said...

Congratulations for sticking with this stuff Andy... and with the Harold Tinworth saga.

Attending a city council call-in meeting (previous post) is certainly over and above the call of duty.

But this stuff is important and it seems that it is only a few Nottingham bloggers (and occasionally the Evening Post) who are interested in holding our local authorities to account... and God knows, someone needs to.

Andy said...


Still quite a bit to find out though. Will put this one to the Info Commissioner and in the meantime have put in new request for details of how much Dunbar and Boardman are being paid.

Should spoil somebody's elevenses...