|DEVOTION TO DUTY|
Cllr Blakeman might be a member of the Labour Party, but her fight on behalf of less advantaged residents is a credit to her.
Without Cllr Blakeman's efforts this whole sordid SEN affair would have been swept under the carpet:so much for the Compassion Training programme.
Mr Holgate is regarded as a man of integrity.
Let's hope he joins Cllr Blakeman in getting to the truth.
Dear Mr Holgate
The attachment to this e-mail sets out some comments from our previous SEN transport provider questioning some of the information recently provided by Mr. Christie to the Chairman of the Family and Children's Services Scrutiny Committee.
I was very concerned to read these comments, since if they are correct, it does seem that we as councillors received some very misleading and inaccurate information from the Executive Director. For example:
* The statement that the contract with Crystals had been let for seven years. On the face of, this is correct, but it does not indicate that this was the third consecutive seven year contract, so in fact Crystals Coaches had held the RBKC contract for 21 years.
* The statement that "when the contract was first let, there were certainly issues and difficulties at the beginning". This means, I assume, that these unidentified issues and difficulties happened 21 years ago - since when the contract has presumably run smoothly.
* The statement that the maximum number of children on a vehicle being four "is not an industry requirement" - however, this was specified by RBKC in its contract with Crystals. What we were not told, therefore, is that this was another example of RBKC "sovereignty" that was lost in the new contract.
* The statement that "industry practice is that most travel operators generally have self-employed staff of up to 50%" - however, the requirement for all staff to be fully employed was specified in RBKC's contract with Crystals. So again, councillors were not told that this was another example of RBKC's "sovereignty" disappearing.
* The statement that "there is no mention of the extremely high Adult Services Costs, charged by Crystals". Crystals state that they have never held the contract for Adult Services. Either they did, or they didn't, but if they didn't, then this is a very seriously misleading piece of information to give to scrutiny councillors.
The significant point I am making is that, as councillors, we have a duty to scrutinise, especially contentious matters such as the new SEN contract. We also have a responsibility to get things right. If officers present us with misleading information, or seriously inaccurate information, then we are prevented from doing our job properly - the job that we were democratically elected to carry out.
IF the inaccuracies highlighted by Crystals are correct, then this is a very serious matter indeed, in which case:
* I would be grateful to know what steps you will put in place to ensure that councillors are never again presented with such an inaccurate document on such an important subject.
* I would like an assurance that these and the other inaccuracies highlighted by Crystals in the document were genuine mistakes and not included wilfully.
* I would like to know how so many inaccuracies came to be in this document.
* And I would like to know why it was not properly checked and corrected before being sent to the Chairman of the Committee and thence to the scrutiny councillors.
Cllr. Judith Blakeman