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Thursday, 8 May 2014


From Private Eye.....courtesy of an old friend of the Dame and member of her Bridge circle. Thank you, my dear...


South Latitude

"Since 2005 this column has reported on the mystery of how notoriously dodgy transport company Olympic South Ltd (OSL), aka Healthcare and Transport Services (Hats), has repeatedly won council and other public contracts at the expense of better-run, more solvent firms.

In 2010 Croydon council reluctantly sacked the bus and cab firm from a £6.5m special needs schools transport contract after the Eye exposed the corrupt way it had been obtained. In 2012, despite its record, OSL was hired to transport officials and media around London by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games. In the same year OSL boss Tony Howard lent London Mayor Boris Johnson a smoke-belching clapped-out double-decker as his re-election campaign "battle bus". Soon afterwards it was impounded for being unroadworthy.

OSL subsequently had 60 of its 100 licences cancelled after an investigation by the traffic commissioner, for  this and other offences, including putting dodgy vehicles on the road without tachographs to monitor drivers' hours - rendering them uninsured - which it denied.

In March this year Eye 1361 reported that a reliable south London bus company, Ruskin Private Hire, had been forced out of business because of the way Croydon and Southwark councils had favoured OSL/Hats. In April Eye 1363 revealed that shareholder funds in OSL and Hats companies showed a deficit of more than £650,000.

Yet these are the cowboys to whom Conservative councils have now entrusted the safety of hundreds of disabled children and elderly people in London.

The "Tri-borough" contracting consortium of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) and Hammersmith & Fulham councils has handed Hats a multi-million-pound special needs transport contract - despite strong warnings from professional council staff about the firm's unsuitability.

One whistleblower complains of the "highly irregular tendering and procurement process" that has been "rotten from start to finish" with "illogical and financially unsound decisions." These decisions have already led to the closure of the one local company. Crystals Coaches, employing 100, had loyally served RBKC for 21 years. It was precluded from tendering, like a number of other well-qualified suppliers.

Hats seems to enjoy advantages over other firms. It has been allowed to rent council premises at Elkstone Road, W10, a site earmarked for an "affordable homes" development. Hats pays for 40 parking spaces but occupies more than 70, plus office space, according to council officers, which it uses to  service contracts in nearby Brent and to run a minicab operation. Although RBKC's property department has already accepted a higher rent for the site, Andrew Christie, executive director of children's services for the consortium, told it to cancel the deal. While the government's Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa) would normally require around nine weeks t approve premises, it fast-tracked this in a week for Olympic South. And so on.

As the Eye has wondered previously What does this company have to offer councillors and officials that others don't?"

When Cllr Elizabeth Campbell kicked out Crystals Coaches, a local firm that had successfully handled Special Needs transportation for two decades, she might have had the intelligence to read Private Eye's revealing piece about Olympic South Ltd who supplanted Crystals and causing this excellent local firm to close with the loss of 100 jobs.
Even odder is the fact that Campbell
was warned by RBKC senior officers about Olympic South's unsuitability....

The Dame intends to promote this sorry story of gross incompetence( and maybe worse) to a national newspaper.

As the Eye so wisely concluded. "what does Olympic South have to offer councillors and officials that others don't"


  1. AN OFFICER WRITES8 May 2014 at 09:27

    What a bloody mess....and who suffers? The children and vulnerable Resign E.Campbell....describing you as unfit for purpose is far too are useless

  2. Dame, what is this about. I cannot read the text!

    1. The Dame apologises....its a horrid article in Private Eye about the new company and its incompetence.

  3. Dame. Please look in your inbox. A full transcription is now available.

  4. Are we still living in the Royal Borough? Something is very very wrong when we consider doing business with such a company let alone put the lives of vulnerable children into their hands. The members better wake up and take control of this disaster.

  5. For too long there has been a cloud over tendering and selection practices in Hornton Street. Dodgy behaviour that is also shared by the whole apparatus of planning approvals. The £4 million a year that is spent on renewing perfectly good pavements is an outstanding example of behaviour that is rotten in K&C. Through and through.

    And now we have this expose by Private Eye about dealings with the very dodgy sounding company called Hats.. At some stage Leaders need to stand back and ask themselves the question: "Does this feel right? Does it look right?" And take appropriate action. Cllr Paget-Brown has a job to do. Elizabeth Campbell needs to go. And then an example needs to made of one or two others with their fingers in the Hats money pie.

  6. This corruption has to stop. It cannot be allowed to continue. It is awful to hear that Crystala Coaches has been put out of business.

    1. Pooter Cockle strikes again. Tri Borough chickens coming home to roost. This dreadful man who outstayd his welcome, passed his sell by date, and troughed off K&C residents for fourteen long years, continues to pollute the Town Hall with his presence and the Tri Borough legacy

  7. Labour needs to run with this at the coming local election. Blatant Tory incompetence

  8. This debacle is not just blatant incompetence it's abuse of power and of the most vulnerable children in Kensington. The residents of this Borough did not vote for a tri borough the utter chaos has gone on for long enough. We have lost good staff with the few remaining bewildered at the total incompetence of the directors in charge. It is the councillors who are in charge and have responsibility to the electorate in case they have forgotten, take control before something happens to one of these children.

  9. ANDREW BARSHALL9 May 2014 at 09:04

    This appalling example of gross mis-management goes to the very heart of how this council is run. It sells valuable playing fields to build a school that should have cost £35 million, NOT £100 million; it buys granite from China, quarried by political prisoners, to build the £30 million 'white elephant' Exhibition Rd....great for quarrying industry and fritters £1m a year on loss making Holland Park Opera.
    Yet it cannot even be bothered to effectively manage the transportation of the most vulnerable.
    We don't promise singlehandedly to re-focus a council corrupted by years of one party dominance, but we will spare no effort to let the healing power of sunlight on wrongdoing.
    If you vote CHELSEA INDEPENDENT on May 22 you will send a message the current leadership cannot ignore.

  10. The council has a duty to save money and to put these contracts out to tender. So in this one case there may have been one or two irregularities, but that doesn't mean the principle is wrong.

  11. If 9.27 had ever managed to learn to read, he or she would have seen from the Rotten Boroughs article that Crystals Coaches, who successfully ran this essential service in RBKC for years, were PREVENTED from tendering for this contract. Presumably this is illegal.

    Transport for the vulnerable is one of RBKC's most important services; now controlled by a corrupt contract. There are others. As well as highway maintenance and school building, RBKC's huge waste management contracts have been corrupt and illegal for decades. In these cases residents lose financially; so who benefits?

  12. hello everybody, this people don't care about the children: rounds of almost 2 hours, no heating, no air condition in the minivans ( no minibus). And the worst is:THEY THINK THE CHILDREN ARE MAD, THERE IS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. The managment is afraid of private investigations. i tell you¡¡¡¡¡ everybody must start a private investigations of this moneymakers!!!! to shack their threats out of the children care services. THIS SERVICES SHOULD BE the end expolicemen and friends are taken money again but now the money is going to their pockets...¿ is this a kind of MAFIA?


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