15th March 2017 - GCC in desperate spin as Tribunal orders release of contract info

A scathing dressing-down

This week the Tribunal's decision on the Freedom of Information case was made public, and it is a scathing dressing-down of the County Council, requiring them to release most of the information they spent so much time - and public money - trying to withhold. The local press covers it here (Stroud News & Journal) andhere (Gloucestershire Live). [1]

A healthy precedent

As we all know, the practical upshot matters little as the full unredacted contract is already in the public domain (since we put it there last month!). Nevertheless the moral victory is significant - it is encouraging to know that the judge's decision is squarely in agreement with the public about what is in the public interest.  The legal precedent is also significant as there are at least two other County Councils involved in similar Freedom of Information cases. [2]

The heart of the matter

The judge makes a general point about the crux of the issue: "in our view there was a significant public interest in the disclosure of the entire Contract, in the interests both of transparency and accountability, ie to enable the public to be informed as to exactly what the Council had agreed on their behalf and its long-term consequences and to hold it properly accountable, in particular through Council elections."  Precisely the point made by Green county councillor Sarah Lunnon in the motion submitted to GCC last December - let's hope this vindication leads to the speedy adoption of an open contracting policy. [3]

And guess what - we have County Council elections coming up.  No wonder the current GCC administration is desperately trying to avoid complete loss of public confidence. They are actually resorting to fake news headlines in response to this major blow in a vain attempt to spin it their way - "Tribunal upholds Council's waste contract appeal" [4]. 

It's time

It's time to congratulate and thank Cos Ttofa and Gerald Hartley of GlosVAIN for their unrelenting dedication to carrying this court case through in the name of transparency on behalf of us all. It worked.

It's also time to call the GCC "Javelin Park cabal" out on their incompetence, their contempt of the public interest and, let's face it, their porky pies... 

PANTS ON FIRE! demo before council meeting next Weds 22nd

Join us on the steps of Shire Hall next Wednesday at 9.15am for the PANTS ON FIRE demonstration, and if you can, come in to the meeting with us at 10.00 - it would be great to fill the public gallery for what promises to be a room full of awkward questions for the cabal...

Demo details are here, and you will find a printable PDF poster here which you can pop in your window, your car, your local cafe or doctor's surgery... [5]

See you there.


[1] Stroud News & Journal - http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/15155231.Major_victory_for_transparency_campaigners_as_tribunal_orders_council_to_reveal_key_figures_in___500m_incinerator_contract/

Gloucestershire Live - http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/details-of-council-s-500-million-incinerator-contract-must-be-revealed-says-government-tribunal/story-30203276-detail/story.html

[2] Worcestershire and Sheffield

[3] There is a discussion event on this subject next Tuesday 21st in Stroud at 7.30pm - all are welcome, details here https://www.facebook.com/events/660801440769722/

[4] http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gloucestershire-county-council-news/news-march-2017/tribunal-upholds-council-s-waste-contract-appeal/

[5] Online info - https://you.38degrees.org.uk/events/pants-on-fire-public-demonstration-before-council-meeting

Printable PDF - http://www.jojomehta.com/pants-on-fire-demo.pdf

Jojo Mehta