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