Jul 09 2013

Labour ‘At Best Incompetent’ Over West London Waste Vote

harrow_council_logo2Harrow Council’s Labour Group has been accused of ‘embarrassing incompetence’, after voting against a favourable infrastructure loan deal between the West London Waste Authority (WLWA) and the Council. At July’s Council meeting, the Labour Group blamed their vote on receiving some paperwork on the decision only the day before – but it has emerged that senior Labour figures have known about it for months. Not only were their Group Leader, Finance and Environment spokesmen given advance notice of the Council item and offered a briefing; the latter actually voted at a WLWA meeting on 26th April for the WLWA to approach Harrow with its proposals.

Cllr. Barry Macleod-Cullinane, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, said: “We know that councillors David Perry, Sachin Shah and Phil O’Dell were all sent the draft Council report, detailed background information, and were offered a briefing by a senior finance officer on 25th June – because we were offered the same. Labour’s leadership appears to have missed or turned down this invitation, and they certainly didn’t see fit to inform their colleagues about it; with Labour’s Sue Anderson twittering that she first learned of the WLWA proposals was when she received the additional Council papers. At best, this is an embarrassing display of incompetence by Labour’s leadership, but somehow it gets even worse…”

Cllr. Macleod-Cullinane explained: “Until recently, Cllr. Phil O’Dell was Harrow’s rep on WLWA. Indeed, before being fired as portfolio holder for Environmental Services in May, Cllr. O’Dell attended WLWA’s 26th April meeting and voted for the WLWA to negotiate with its member boroughs – including Harrow – to secure millions in infrastructure loans. Is Cllr. O’Dell seriously expecting us to believe that, despite being in charge of Harrow’s waste policy and despite actually voting for this at a WLWA over two months ago, that he didn’t know anything about it until this week’s Council meeting?”

Cllr. Macleod-Cullinane continued: “Cllr. O’Dell apparently also didn’t bother telling anyone in the Labour Group, including his leader and finance spokesman, about the WLWA proposal he’d just voted for. Nor is the proposal small or easily overlooked. Did Cllr. O’Dell forget? Was he even paying attention when portfolio holder? As a matter of urgency, Labour’s Cllr. O’Dell needs to come clean and explain to Council what he knew and when he knew it!”

Cllr. Macleod-Cullinane concluded: “How can residents believe the Labour Group’s talk of “holding the Council’s Independent Labour administration to account” when Labour’s leadership either doesn’t know or doesn’t want to know what’s going on?”

Footnote: We asked Cllr O’Dell for a comment on this after last week’s meeting. No response yet, of course.

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