6th February 2017 Victory by accident! Javelin Park blunders & revelations
IT whoopsie reveals Javelin Park contract
It's been a week of embarrassment for Gloucestershire County Council. Local Green Party members discovered that the PDF version of the redacted incinerator contract on the GCC website became viewable in full when transferred into word processor format and the redactions restored. You may have seen the press coverage - the BBC published the story, as did the locals (Stroud News & Journal, Gloucestershire Live) .
Naturally as soon as they realised, the Council replaced the PDF with a secure version, but for a short time the details were publicly available. It has come to our attention that the contract documents are still viewable online as a result .
A really bad deal
The documents are complicated and run to many hundreds of pages as you will see, but the following is clear - at £146.36 per tonne processing ("gate") fee for the first 108,000 tonnes of annual municipal waste (see Schedule 4) for 25 years, this is a truly reckless waste of public funds. It's a lot more expensive than landfill, and well over twice the price of recycling residual waste (eg using R4C or similar). Just sending our waste to other regional incinerators with spare capacity would be considerably cheaper.
When local authorities are facing cuts across so many vital services from housing to social care to education, how on earth can a project like this be justified? It simply can't.
Even with a hefty cancellation fee ("compensation on termination", see Schedule 17), which looks to be in the tens of millions, it would still be cheaper to terminate this awful deal and do something better.
And that's before we even consider the environmental implications when our government has signed the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions and has already been judged in breach of pollution regulations .
No wonder they didn't want us to see the figures.
Freedom of Information decision still pending
The tribunal is aware of what has happened. All we can say at this point is that if the judge's decision retains any of the redactions, it will be like shutting a stable door that was open anyway until a week ago!
I'm hoping that by now all the County Councillors who have been kept in the dark as much as you and I have had a chance to look at these documents, which at time of writing are still viewable here .
Credit where it's due
Let's be clear - we didn't create this result, so it's not exactly a case of basking in campaigning success. GlosVAIN members' thorough and persistent following up of FoI requests led to the Information Commissioner's notice in 2015 requesting the full disclosure the Council has continued to deny us. That was a true victory fought with many, many hours of meticulous research.
The revelation of this week is that GCC has been wasting a further £200,000 of public money protecting an open stable door. The email you are reading right now is simply helping to make public the information the public should always have had access to.
Despite all its attempts not to come clean, the Council has, after all, shown us the contract.