Friday, 29 March 2013

Complaint to Information Commissioner upheld

Last June I made a Freedom of Information request to Carmarthenshire Council for correspondence between the council and the evangelical Towy Community Church concerning the Excel bowling alley project. You may remember that the council funding, which amounted to £1.4m, was something of a controversial issue and has been discussed on blogs and featured in press reports over the past year or two.

The request to the council was refused as it would have exceeded the appropriate cost/time limit (section 12 exemption) to search and supply the information. An internal appeal drew the same response. I then took it to the Information Commissioner who investigated the matter and finally got back to me yesterday.

My complaint was upheld and the Information Commissioner (ICO) found that the council had incorrectly relied on Section 12(1) as a basis for refusing the request.

The council, in it's time calculations, had included searches of it's back-up records to recover deleted information. The Commissioner only considers back-up records to be subject to FoI if they are held as an archive rather than purely for disaster recovery or similar emergencies.

The council had not provided any evidence to the Commissioner to suggest that its back-up records "are in any way being used as an archive facility". The Commissioner therefore, does not accept that the council can reasonably take into account the time taken to search these records, which brings the time and cost under the appropriate limit.

In effect, the Commissioner has ruled that a new response must be issued which does not rely on the cost/time exemption.

"The Commissioner requires the Council to take the following steps to ensure compliance with the legislation:

* Issue a fresh response under the FOIA that does not rely on section 12(1).

The public authority must take these steps within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice. Failure to comply may result in the Commissioner making a written certification of this fact to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the Act and may be dealt with as a contempt of court"

Either party has a right of appeal which must be made within 28 days.
The original request can be seen here.

The full decision notice is quite lengthy but will shortly (I assume) be available on the ICO website, search here. I will also provide a direct link when it is published. (Ref; FS50461626)

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Council Leader made "inaccurate and misleading statements" in press release, says Ombudsman

The Ombudsman has concluded his investigation of Carmarthenshire Council's Labour Leader following last year's complaint by Plaid politicians Jonathan Edwards and Rhodri Glyn Thomas. You may remember the row concerned the use of the council's press office to accuse the two of 'sabotage' over a proposed Sainsbury's store.

The South Wales Evening Post reports;

Leader Kevin Madge breached Carmarthenshire code says Ombudsman

"Council leader Kevin Madge was wrong to use Carmarthenshire's press office to issue an attack on two Plaid Cymru politicians.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Peter Tyndall, has found he breached the council's code of conduct.

​The statement was released by the council's press office and published on its website in September last year.
In it Mr Madge referred to the proposed Sainsbury's supermarkets in Llandeilo and Cross Hands.

He accused Plaid Cymru's AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas and MP Jonathan Edwards of "deliberately trying to sabotage" the development of a doctor's surgery and health centre in Cross Hands and improvements at Ysgol Maes yr Yrfa.

In his report Mr Tyndall said the press release included both "inaccurate and misleading statements" and "strayed into the realms of a political attack."

Mr Tyndall said he did not think the matter was serious enough to warrant any further action, but concluded: "I should say that I am of the view that you have, on this occasion, walked a very fine line."

Today Mr Madge said he was pleased there would be no further action and said he would reflect on the findings and advice.
However, he said he was "bitterly disappointed" that Sainsbury's later withdrew its plans for Llandeilo.
He said: "My initial press statement that was the subject of this complaint pointed out that the call-in of the planning application jeopardised the creation of 250 jobs and a development which most local people seemed to support.
"In the event Sainsbury's have withdrawn their proposal and these jobs have indeed been lost.
"In that sense I believe my comments have, sadly, been shown to be true."

A spokesman for Mr Thomas and Mr Edwards said they welcomed the findings and called on Mr Madge to make a full public apology.
He said: "Nobody goes into politics expecting not to receive a couple of low blows — especially when your main rival is the Labour Party.

''However there has to be political integrity, especially from a leader of a public authority," added the spokesman

(SW Evening Post)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Judgement on Libel Action - a brief statement

I am struggling to find the words to describe how I feel but further to the judgement handed down today I would like to make the following brief statement;

I am absolutely devastated by this judgement and I believe it is a miscarriage of justice. I would never have embarked on fifteen months of litigation and endured a six day trial in the High Court if I had not felt entirely justified in my action.

I have always acted in good faith, my motives have always been honest and sincere and have merely criticised the council where I felt it appropriate, and have never had a complaint until the counter claim was issued.

I want to thank everyone for their support. I am now in discussions with my lawyers concerning the possibility of an appeal.

This has potentially opened the floodgates for similar actions and I believe this judgement has dire consequences for others who publicly scrutinise and criticise their local authority, including the press.

I do not recognise the picture which has been painted of me, anybody who knows me or has met me will know that it is wrong.

I have no idea where I'm going to get £25,000 from, I haven't got £25. I am lost for words at the kind offers of financial help but this is my problem and it would not be right to accept such kind generosity.

I am trying to remain positive and will try and continue with my blog and calls for transparency as best I can under the circumstances.

Once again, thank you all for your kind words and support.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Executive Board to recommend webcasting pilot

The agenda for next Monday's Executive Board meeting has been published and includes, finally, the proposal to webcast full council meetings for a 12 month pilot. The cost will be met by a recent Welsh Government grant made available to 'promote local democracy. I am assuming that it will be approved and passed on to full council for their approval. I hope to attend the meeting.

The details can be found on the council website here.

I also note that this disappointing, but expected statement is included in the Summary;
It should also be noted that the Council also decided to confirm the recommendation of the Business Management Group, that members of the public would not be allowed to film meetings until the pilot on broadcasting meetings has taken place and been evaluated.

On a separate issue, the Board has to approve the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales report into Members' Allowances and expenses. Little has changed from last year except a new requirement that;
"the annual public declarations of payments to members the Council should now include remuneration from all public service appointments held by elected members by virtue of being a councillor. 
(e.g. allowances paid by the Dyfed Powys Police & Crime Panel, Community Health Council, WLGA and any other body that the Council appoints members to serve upon will now be included in the published annual schedule of allowances paid to councillors, co-opted and independent members of the council’s committees)"
About time too, I'm sure this was recommended by the IRPW over a year ago.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Wales Audit Office - Faith restored?

The recent Wales Audit Office report into the goings on at Caerphilly council (WAO pdf report here, and BBC article here) made me wonder whether the WAO are actually able and determined enough to act independently. Independent of whom, I hear you ask. Well, over the years I have had some correspondence with the body and indeed a couple of meetings relating to a variety of concerns and my perception, rightly or wrongly, is that they appear to be compliant and subservient to the client, in this case Carmarthenshire Council, to the detriment, in my opinion, of their independent integrity.

To give some examples, a few years ago I raised various concerns with the WAO, the subject matter is irrelevant here but can be found in the earlier sections of this blog. The questions I posed required the WAO to seek responses from the council, the WAO then duly formulated their replies. Before sending me their replies, however, they sent every letter in a draft form to the council for their comments, editing, additions and approval. The council duly obliged. On one occasion a more senior WAO officer had recommended that two pieces of important information should be disclosed to me. The council decided that this was not going to happen; one reason they gave was that much would be made of it on 'blog sites'. The WAO complied.

To any lay person, this was not the actions of an independent body, the WAO should never have done this. They should have asked for information and written their response to me, not passed it by County Hall for approval. More recent enquiries have also read suspiciously like the missives from County Hall too.

Another occasion involved an investigation into Carmarthenshire's planning department, again it was a few years ago. This had been called for by many including political representatives as well as members of the public. This prompted the WAO to carry out a general review (which was due anyway) and to look into numerous complaints; members of the public had been asked to submit their concerns about any perceived irregularities/inconsistencies etc they had encountered.

What actually happened was that the investigatory element was mysteriously dropped  and we were left, eventually, with a pointless appraisal of the council's 'performance targets'. The MP at the time urged the WAO to continue their investigation but it was to no avail. It then transpired that the reason the investigation was dropped was due to pressure from the council, who had persuaded the WAO to back down.

The WAO itself has been the subject of, shall we say, management issues for some years but perhaps it is starting to show that it actually has teeth with local authorities. The Caerphilly nonsense has provided some evidence at least that the culture illustrated above may have changed for the better, it remains to be seen, in light of recent complaints, whether this change has spread further west. The public need to have confidence that the organisation is a public interest watchdog which will independently investigate the governance, procedures and financial management of our local authorities. When and if it needs to, of course.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Youth clubs facing the axe...and other news

As the council scratches around to save pennies yet another Task and Finish Group is to be set up. This time the target has switched from the frail and elderly and their day clubs, and it is now pointing the axe at the 25 youth clubs run at a cost of £60,000 per year. To put things into some perspective, the council propaganda rag, the Carmarthenshire News, costs £138,000 per year and the brand new civic Merc continues to purr expensively around Carmarthenshire.

'Consultations' will be held over the coming months to 'provide options for change'. The provision of youth services is a statutory duty although how the provision is achieved seems to be up to the local authorities. I predict that the clubs, which provide a valuable service, will go the way of the luncheon clubs for the elderly and the public toilets and be farmed out to voluntary groups or town and community councils, who will be left to struggle and pick up the pieces. Some organisations will be better equipped than others of course and a particular fundamentalist evangelical church springs to mind which has already benefited from council funding. Well, at least we'll know our youngsters will be saved from eternal damnation.

On the subject of schools, the council published a press release last week outlining the 'capital programme'. Within it was a mention of the proposed new primary school in Llangadog, 'Cwm Tywi'. This new school actually involves the closure of two others, Llanwrda and Llansadwrn, (not that this was mentioned in the article) both of which plan to campaign against closure. As a Llanwrda Community Councillor, I shall be joining them.

The formal 'consultation' has not even started yet but most of the background work, design, infrastructure reports etc have already been done, at considerable expense. What do you think the chances are of saving the two village schools? It's almost pointless having a statutory consultation. And those that try and save their schools and oppose the council bulldozers? They will rapidly appear in the news section of the council website as a 'small group of troublemakers intent on harming the council...jeopardizing the education of your children'. I could write it for them.

The planning decision for the new secondary superschool in Ffairfach, Llandeilo is awaited. Numerous objections were made and it remains to be seen whether it will be called-in by the Welsh government. This involved the closure of Pantycelyn school in Llandovery despite a spirited battle.

The battles against Carmarthenshire Council are escalating in Llandovery with the growth of a very determined residents'association, LATRA. A formal objection has been launched against the Local Development Plan with regards to the town, and particularly the allocation of 148 homes in one area, an vialbe alternative has been proposed by LATRA which will see growth and development spread evenly throughout the town, reviving and retaining its unique character. The group was formed as a "direct result of the anger and frustration felt by the people of Llandovery at the lack of consultation and information with regard to major local issues. Over three hundred members of the community signed up after objections, petitions and the voices of several thousand people were consistently ignored"

Back to the new superschool. The site is on a flood plain and the council have gone to some lengths to commission, er, suitable reports. Unfortunately the initial glossy report failed to include two bridges and the possibility of blockages. An 'Addendum' has now been commissioned. It is also glossy.

There is also a 'planning delay' and an extra cost of £150,000 to deal with a Roman Road that runs through the site. Quite what the £150k is for I don't know but I expect further glossy reports.
This was originally a pilot development, fully funded by the Welsh government but that funding has now dwindled to 50% and the Council's MEP programme as a whole has a black hole of £26m. The question is whether the school will ever be complete...

Recently the council were asked whether this 'state-of-the-art' school would have a 'state-of-the-art' swimming pool for the kids, the answer was no, certainly not, no money. Maybe they'll just have to wait for heavy rain....

Yesterday's BBC report that Wales is seeing a 'surge' in the rat population reveals that many Councils now charge for pest control services which will of course reduce the uptake.

Carmarthenshire Council went one better and abolished the service altogether in 2011 saving £92,000 per year. It now offers advice only and, to make matters worse, encourages everyone to leave waste food outside in the green recycling containers. Reports of increased presence of rats are habitually denied as 'unfounded' by the council.

I suppose the expert advice is to stand on a chair and scream.

Lastly, the Chief Executive of Caerphilly Council, Anthony O'Sullivan, has made it into the Mirror, and the circumstances surrounding the scandal are now being investigated by a neighbouring police force.

Council fatcat broke the law by giving himself a £26,000 pay rise

"The council acted illegally because the meeting was not advertised, the agenda was not available and the leader and other senior officers were present"

Updated; Mr O'Sullivan has now been suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation;

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

March council meeting - senior pay and horsemeat

Back into the parallel universe of Carmarthenshire County Council again this morning to observe a meeting of full council.
With the parish notices over with, the Chamber was treated to a report from the lady from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). It was an 'over-all' report and non-specific, in other words compiled from data provided by the council. A similar report last year was peppered with ridiculous jargon which amused us bloggers, particularly the use of the word 'triangulation'. I was listening out for it today but I was disappointed. Instead the report 'highlighted key aspects' and was an 'evolving process' to provide 'alignment' and the service was being restructured to 'implement a citizen-led approach'. Blah blah.

So, equipped with the council's figures and a few 'participation' meetings, the areas of concern to the CSSIW were a failure to carry out regular annual assessments for older people and a poor level of support for carers. There were actually, several more recommendations for improvement within the report itself but these were not aired at the meeting. One councillor asked whether this report dealt with child abuse issues, no, apparently it didn't, as this report wasn't the result of any actual inspections, more a 'wider comment'. How useful.

Council Leader Kevin Madge then rose with his usual "I'd like to thank the officers.....moving in the right direction....the envy of Wales....hope Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion eventually catch up with our excellence...can sleep at night knowing our officers have everything under control..." The usual. Cllr Tremlett, Executive board Member then purred her 'personal' thanks to the lady for coming here 'personally' to present the report. How kind, and I expect she did it, personally, out of the good of her heart too....

The Plaid Leader asked for the CSSIW's view about the privatisation of 75% of Carmarthenshire's social care services; she didn't have a view, it was up to the authority, they just dealt with 'outcomes'. Cllr Jenkins asked whether the council had the necessary finance and capacity to cope with the 'stormy waters ahead', the Director of Social Services told the Chamber that corporate responsibility and partnerships were very important, so didn't really answer the question.
There was no mention, or questions of course about any uncomfortable ombudsman reports or protection to whistleblowers and, as it is with these reports, it was nothing more than meaningless, and probably very expensive, waffle.

Anyway the meeting moved on to set the council tax for the forthcoming year. As this was discussed at last week's budget, there was no debate, although I could probably think of a 1001 questions about the wisdom of how some of it is spent. No one was asking anything though. In fact the whole meeting seemed a little quiet, had instructions been given not to rock boats in front of the press? Were they practising for their stage debut?

The next item up was the 'Localism Act', not the whole thing you understand, but just the requirement to publish an annual Pay Policy. We heard that it had to be published annually because the Act insisted on councils being 'open' about pay, especially senior pay, damn that Eric Pickles.

Peter Hughes Griffiths was puzzled that although the statement required approval by full council it was all pre-determined by the Executive. The whole thing was too general, he then put forward an amendment to defer the decision until a cross-party Pay Policy Advice Panel had been set up to take a closer look. He was particularly concerned about the high wages, external fees etc for chief officers, in the current financial climate  and mentioned today's reports about the unlawful actions of Caerphilly Council's Chief Executive, one of the reasons why it was deemed unlawful was because the Chief Executive failed to declare an interest and leave the meeting when the decision was made.

Plaid's complaint to the Audit Office about returning officer fees and concerns about the council's financial management wasn't mentioned - but I think it was hovering in the air somewhere...

Just in case any senior officers on the elevated podium felt a little uncomfortable the Chief Executive rose to the challenge to explain what it was all about.  Although full council had to approve the pay policy, salaries and terms were decided by the Executive Board. So, effectively, full council was just one big rubber stamp.

The Chief Executive, quite rightly, said there was an awful lot of fuss about chief officer pay in the press and lots of FOIs, whether he though there was good reason for it or not he didn't elaborate. It is of course a controversial topic.  He did say though that all this came from Westminster and Eric Pickles (also know for his support of bloggers filming meetings, not a favourite in County Hall). He went on to quote Tony Blair who had said at some point that no chief officer should earn twenty times more than the lowest paid council worker; Mr James said that as his pay ratio was 1:13 it was 'well down on that'. He also said that if there were any pay rises this year, they would all find out when next year's Pay Policy was published next March. Doesn't sound a very 'open' system to me.

The Leader (after thanking the officers again) agreed that Mr Pickles was not his favourite politician either but a Pay panel was a good idea (even though they could only advise the Executive) and agreed with the Chief Executive that it would be unlawful not to approve the policy by the end of the month.
In fact there was all round agreement for a Pay Panel and the document was duly stamped.

Fortunately, and just in case there were those who didn't realise that senior pay was a taboo subject, Meryl Gravell was back on the bench after being indisposed for a couple of meetings, and was able to reassure and remind everyone (Starting with, "I know the press are here") that we are very, very lucky with the quality of the senior staff and were in fact the envy (again) of every local authority.
Referring to senior officers pay, she gave us her monkeys and peanuts quote again and gushed that we 'needed' that leadership that had made Carmarthenshire the best council in Wales'......

Back momentarily to reality with the conversation turning to horsemeat and the Executive Board minutes from the 18th Feb, where a very short lived reassurance by the Leader that there was no contamination was minuted, only to be disproved a week later. The Leader responded (paying tribute to the officers first) by saying that 'events' had taken over, and treated us yet again to his youthful reminiscences about nights out at Top Rank and his 3am visits to the dubious takeaway over the road where he may well have been eating cats and dogs.

One councillor suggested that it was a wake up call and perhaps they should consider buying locally, even if it cost a few pence more. Unfortunately council policy to establish multi-national supermarkets in every corner of Carmarthenshire means that there's not much opportunity to buy locally.

The meeting moved on to the public funding of organisations such as the Coleshill Centre, a subject of the Executive Board minutes, and Steps, Chooselife, and other organisations were also mentioned. I would imagine, the Towy Community Church comes under this too. The funding which was of concern was to enable these charitable organisations to set up cafes, shops, etc, essentially 'opening up for business', in direct competition with local retailers. Despite the good work carried out by some of these organisations, was it right that public money be used to fund businesses in this way?
Kevin Madge responded and paid tribute to the officers for their work (I hope you've noticed a pattern here). This was the way forward apparently, the council wouldn't be able to provide these services for ever...he hoped they would break even and be self-funding...eventually. Anyway, there was nothing wrong in using public money in this way. Naturally.

A lengthy discussion followed about the dire consequences of the Tory Welfare Reform Act. There was general agreement that it would further impoverish those already in dire need, which I daresay it will. Pam Palmer was worried that the arrangements for Universal Credit meant that people would be paid monthly and, even worse, in arrears.

Anyway, Cllrs Pam Palmer and Jane Tremlett were given the task of arranging a seminar, they sounded rather excited...another booking at Parc Y Scarlets on the way perhaps...with refreshments...?

And that was about it...back out again into the real world.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Plaid complaint - up for debate?

The agenda for Wednesday's Council meeting (6th March), which will set the council tax, also includes a recommendation to approve the Council's Pay Policy, a document now required under the Localism Act. It sets out the structure and levels of pay and also the ratio between the highest and lowest earners, currently running at 1:13, ie the lowest paid workers receive a thirteenth the salary of the highest paid employee.

Councillors might like to note that within the report there is a reference to 'Returning Officer Fees', the subject of a recent complaint (see previous posts here and here) about the council's financial management to the Wales Audit Office by Jonathan Edwards MP.
Therefore this is clearly 'on the agenda' and will, I trust, be open to debate and comment when the item is under discussion.

Not on the agenda, I notice, is the recommendation to webcast meetings.

As the horsemeat saga gallops off into yesterday's news, here are the Executive Board Minutes for the 18th February, which are due to be 'approved' at Wednesday's meeting;

"The Chair (Kevin Madge) referred to current national, and European, concerns regarding the issue of some processed beef products having been found to be contaminated with horse meat. He advised that the Council’s meat suppliers to schools and care homes etc had provided full authenticity and traceability of their products, and there was no question of any contamination."
This was followed on the 19th Feb by a similarly confident council press release which has now, as you will guess, been removed.

And then, on the 28th February;

Email from Head of Public Protection, Philip Davies to Councillors;

"The FSA has informed the Council that a sample of minced meat from Welsh Bros, a company which supplies our schools and social care establishments, had tested positive for horse DNA."

Friday, 1 March 2013

Audit Office called as MP and AM question council finances

At the end of January, local Plaid Cymru politicians, Jonathan Edwards MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM made some enquiries with the council over the apparent 'advance' payment of fees of £20,000 from the council to the Returning Officer (who is also the Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire Council) for the May 2012 election.

The issue was that the sum had been paid by the council to the Returning Officer in the last financial year, before the election and before the number of contested seats were known.

The Western Mail reported the story; 'Council chief executive's £20,000 election advance could prompt law change'.

Plaid have made further enquiries via the Freedom of Information Act for more details, the full response can be seen here.
It still remains unexplained how the number of contested seats were known within the 2011/12 financial year,
And perhaps the most staggering admission though is that the Council has no record of the dates when the payments were made.

Back in July last year, Plaid accused the council of 'creative accounting' after it failed to distinguish whether advertisements for the council pravda, the Carmarthenshire News were paid for internally or externally. Controversy surrounds the Council rag as it appears much of the so-called advertising revenue which it uses to justify its financial existence actually comes from other council departments and other taxpayer funded bodies.

Plaid Cymru are now reporting their concerns about the council's financial management over the returning officer fees to the Wales Audit Office, and apparently it's causing quite a stir in County Hall as explanations are being demanded.

Here's the Plaid press release;

Audit Office called as politicians question Council’s financial management

Fri. March 1, 2013

Plaid Cymru politicians Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM and Jonathan Edwards MP have contacted the Wales Audit Office expressing their concern that Carmarthenshire County Council cannot properly account for how public money is spent.

In their letter to the Auditor General for Wales, the Party of Wales duo point out conflicting information they have seen from the council as to how much the Chief Executive was paid for duties as the Returning Officer during last year’s local council elections.

Less than a month ago Mr Thomas and Mr Edwards exposed that Carmarthenshire Council’s Chief Executive, Mark James received a £20,000 cash advance for election activities a minimum of five week before the election actually took place. Following this revelation, the Carmarthenshire politicians submitted Freedom of Information requests to all Welsh Councils to find out when council’s paid their Returning Officer. In response, not only did Carmarthenshire Council present conflicting information on the amount of monies paid to the Returning Officer, but also stated it did not hold information on when those payments were made.

Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas said he was gravely concerned that the local authority, which is responsible for taxpayers’ money, does not hold records on what payments it made to the Returning Officer. His constituency colleague and Member of Parliament, Jonathan Edwards, said the discrepancies in the information provided by the council is a perfect example as to why the council should hold this information.
The politicians also raised with the Auditor General for Wales the concerns of county residents as to whether their council tax money was being spent appropriately, citing the recent court case in which the Chief Executive had his costs indemnified to bring a libel case against a county resident.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said:

"When we first raised concerns about the Chief Executive receiving a £20,000 cash advance we were told this was a ‘part payment’. However information received from the Council this week suggests this isn’t the case and the Chief Executive, in his role as Returning Officer, received full payment before the election.
"I’m gravely concerned to have been told the local authority, which is responsible for taxpayers’ money, does not hold information on when it made these election payments to the Returning Officer – especially when I have been provided with differing information, from the authority itself, regarding the amount of monies paid.

"Every Welsh council which has responded to our freedom of information request to date has been able to provide us with the details of when payments were made to their Returning Officer. It is Carmarthenshire Council’s lack of proper financial management, or sheer unwillingness to be transparent, that has left us with no alternative but to contact the Auditor General."

Jonathan Edwards MP added:

"We’ve been provided with different information on what the Returning Officer received for town and community council duties as well as different information on what he received for by-elections during the year. This is of great concern and the true figures need to be established as a matter of urgency.
"It is astonishing to be told that the Council doesn’t hold information on when it made payments to the Chief Executive for his Returning Officer duties. The discrepancies in the information provided is a perfect example as to why the council should hold this information.
"We are talking about taxpayers’ money. Every single penny should be accounted for but it seems Carmarthenshire County Council is unable to do that."
(Link to full article with notes here)

On a seperate issue entirely, I have been informed that the refuse collectors have had their 1.5 hours a week overtime for cleaning the lorries stopped, and the lorries are now being cleaned by a private firm at the cost of £80 per lorry.....