A councillor has ruled out holding a meeting in public to investigate issues surrounding why homes in Lichfield and Burntwood were given new recycling bags smaller than they should have been.

Cllr David Leytham
Cllr David Leytham

Lichfield District Council has admitted that the new bags are a third smaller than the 81-litres they had been expecting.

But with the bags already distributed, the local authority has said people will need to begin using them anyway amidst a backlash from residents who say they have been full of paper and card within days.

Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group, had called for a task group meeting on the issue to be held in public to avoid adding to “the suspicions of residents”.

But Cllr David Leytham, chair of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, has ruled out such a move.

In a response to Cllr Norman, he said:

“After discussions, I accepted that the best way to deal with the blue bag affair is to have a full briefing, establish the facts, give them some thought and then decide which way scrutiny will go.

“I want to ensure we have a clear starting point before we investigate what Lichfield District Council has done well and not so well.

“I cannot agree to public meetings because at some stage we are bound to explore contractual issues, which I am sure you will agree, should not be made public.

“The briefing will be online to attract a good attendance.”

Cllr David Leytham, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Norman said he was disappointed by the decision:

“I think it’s a missed opportunity to show members and the public the independence and non party-political nature of scrutiny over the blue bags issue.”

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council has

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19 Comments

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  1. Why?what is there to Hide? The Taxpayer has paid for these useless bags so why is meeting being held behind closed doors. I myself am considering returning my Blue Bag and asking for a refund.

  2. Sorry but I disagree with Cllr Lathams decision.

    Contractural issues should be held in public – it’s yet again another mess that is trying to be shoved under the carpet.

    It’s simple and in days gone by when I was working at LDC we had a project, had a remit, had a budget and managed it on time and in budget. Brainless idiots are managing massive projects and they have no idea what they’re doing

    ITS ABOUT TIME THESE MESSES ARE DEALT WITH HONESTLY AND IN THE OPEN FORUM AND THOSE THAT ARE AT BLAME ARE NAMED AND REMOVED.

    Inept in their roles is an understatement!!!

  3. Just had a look at when meetings can be held in private.

    How can meetings be held in private?
    These rules have been around for a long time. If the meeting is to consider information ruled to be “confidential” by a Government department, by statute or by or a court, it must be held in private. If it is to consider information that falls within one or more of the categories of information that can be “exempt” from public access, then the meeting can decide formally to exclude the public, giving reasons. The categories cover individual privacy, commercial confidentiality, trades union negotiations, legal privilege and enforcement action, but a local authority’s decision to grant itself planning permission must be taken in public. The meeting must decide that the balance of the public interest favours holding the meeting in private. The authority’s “proper officer”, who arranges the publication of papers before the meeting, can provisionally anticipate this decision and withhold the information in question, marking the papers with the exemption category. After the meeting, the information is regarded as confidential, the minutes and records need not disclose that information and public access to documents is restricted.

    The 2012 rules introduced a new requirement for private executive meetings. Twenty-eight clear days advance notice has to be given that the meeting will be held in private, and why, any objections have to be considered and another notice published five clear days before the meeting (which must also say why any objections have been rejected) subject to complicated rules about urgent decisions. But this requirement does not apply to non-executive meetings.

    That apart, the person chairing a meeting can expel a member of the public if their disorderly conduct is disrupting the meeting.
    https://www.weightmans.com/insights/the-openness-of-local-government-bodies-regulations-2014-questions-answers-and-unanswered-questions/
    Otherwise, meetings must be open to the public.

    Would emphasise this.

    The meeting must decide that the balance of the public interest favours holding the meeting in private.

  4. Professorpineapple – the issue is that the task group is not a formal meeting/committee so rules are not as tight

  5. Ross – Thanks ! Always happy to be put right by professionals.

    “If you’ve nothing to fear, you’ve nothing to hide,” as Theresa May was fond of saying does seem applicable.

  6. Cllr Leytham: “I cannot agree to public meetings because at some stage we are bound to explore contractual issues, which I am sure you will agree, should not be made public.” I’m afraid I cannot agree with Cllr Leytham. In order for public scrutiny to work, details of contracts need to be public. An awful lot can be concealed behind the concept of commercial confidentiality.

  7. Just checking isn’t this the councillor who had his hand slapped for letting his wife supply floral displays for council events and didn’t declare it and he’s now saying it’s not appropriate!

    Me thinks it’s a bit of a farce now – he’s as big as a joke as the size of these bags!

  8. @Sarah. It is indeed. That is what made me laugh.

    The report from the hearing on Monday said: “The committee agreed that a breach of the Code of Conduct for Lichfield District Council had occurred, in that Cllr Leytham had failed to register the business of his spouse and also failed to register the existence of a contractual relationship between the City Council and Pretty Little Parlour.

    https://lichfieldlive.co.uk/2019/07/04/report-reveals-councillor-breached-code-of-conduct-by-failing-to-declare-business-run-by-his-wife-which-provided-services-to-lichfield-city-council/

  9. ‘ But with the bags already distributed…’ Hands up those who have not yet received a bag??

  10. Honestly I just wish at the get go LDC had given us the option to specify if we wanted a blue bag or a purple (pink?) bin, with those not specifying getting the bag which they can always upgrade at a later time. Instead we now our collective council body with its latest demonstration of eating crow in terms of their competence and its ability to take feedback on board, as well a scheme weighed down by sunk costs that is sounding increasingly likely to push residents towards choosing landfill (be it intentionally through disillusionment or not through the bags not being fit for purpose) or getting mothballed as a failed experiment with the bill posted to the residents of Lichfield in our next council tax rise.

    Truly strange that rather than have gated agenda items for a discussion of non-public contractual issues (although I’m having a hard time understanding why there would be any need to delve past the bag specifications, quality control, acceptance and dispute mechanisms none of which are particular sensitive unless say LDC has messed up in their legal documentation and now wants to obscure the fact) where the public are asked to leave that instead the entire discussion is to be held hostage behind closed doors.

    Alas, an opportunity for a honest and transparent aftermath is now seemingly squandered and I can’t help but feel we now have the foundations of a cover up forming with these meetings being used more to decide what the narrative should be. It will be less about understanding or solving and more about doing just enough to save face to the point that enough collections have taken place for it to be pedalled that all things considering the scheme works as intended with no further action is needed.

    Its now down to yourselves LDC to correct course and prove speculations such as these are without merit by letting residents join the conversation, the stance for these meetings should be reconsidered.

  11. I think bag gate is getting out of hand, these are bags into which we put the appropriate recycling items not life changing pieces of equipment, if the bags are not big enough for your needs you can order another,I suspect however if the right size of bag had been delivered complaints would be flooding in about being too heavy “I can’t lift it would be the cry” Yes the bags are expensive yes the councillors involved in the implementation of these bags have messed up but it isn’t the end of the world the object of the exercise is to try and stop the vast amounts of your council tax being wasted at the recycling centre because of rejected/ contaminated loads.

  12. Where was the “overview & scrutiny” in this issue from the start?
    Change the Chairman would be a start as clearly he is incompetent as is his committee who are playing catch up. Meanwhile our black bin is filling up nicely & we cannot get a extra bag for “at least 1 month” according to LDC. Reckon we would need 3 bags which is “not permitted” – so black bin it is on the excess until resolved.
    This cannot be good for LDC or environment as good paper cardboard has nowhere else to go but black bin.

  13. This whole saga has been one of yet more ineptitude and mismanagement from LDC. They simply cannot get anything right. And the reason given for not being fully transparent is absolute codswallop. As taxpayers, why are we not entitled to know the terms of a contract that was negotiated in our name?? It’s ludicrous. It’s our money – so we have a right to know how it’s being spent.

  14. It is not a meeting – it is a “briefing” for members. It will be in private as briefings or training sessions usually are but nothing in the invitation says it is confidential – so that is going to be interesting. It is also important to note that no “decisions” can be made at this session.

    I hope that the Cabinet Member responsible doesn’t think that no questions will be allowed (I am still awaiting answers to emailed questions). In any case the Annual Council Meeting will be on the 17th of May and the Overview and Scrutiny Commitee will be meeting on the 26th so good luck with that if so.

  15. Maybe I may be time for some independent members to also hold the vice chairman – a paid position held by a labour member – of the scrutiny committee to account.

  16. I can only assume that Cllr Alistair Little, now independent though until very recently a loyal Conservative member, is putting his name forward for Vice Chair of Scrutiny.

    A bit odd if so as I had to Chair the meeting on the 23rd of June in 2020 (the Conservative Vice Chair being absent as usual) because Cllr Little had resigned a few days earlier.

    Even odder is his new found interest in Scrutiny. When I wanted to raise a question on Environmental issues being highlighted in future reports at the Scrutiny meeting of the 12th of September 2019 Scrutiny Committee he prevented me asking the question! When I asked it anyway at the following meeting of Council, he accused me of playing party politics – which no one else has ever accused me of in the 20 plus years I have either chaired or been a member of a Scrutiny Committee.

    In fact I’m used to Conservative attempts to silence me whether it is the Chair of a Committee or even the Chair of the Council like David Smith or, more recently, Cllr Gwilt – who had to apologise publicly at the last meeting of Council. It doesn’t work and in Councillor Little’s case at the next meeting we proposed and succeeded in getting the Council to agree there was a Climate Emergency.

    And whilst the Vice Chair’s role is the main Opposition’s choice, and is entitled to an allowance, because I get an allowance as Leader of the Labour Group I cannot claim the allowance for Vice Chair or as Chair of the Climate Change Task Group. Buy 1 get 2 free as it were.

  17. This is a procurement mess and whilst I don’t wish to absolve Cllrs of all responsibility these “mistakes” of accidentally “selling off land” and taking deilivery and/or specifying the wrong size bag sits squarely at the feet of the council employees. The failure of the Cllrs is in not holding the relevant depts to account or sorting our poor practises.

    BTW maybe we should consider ourselves lucky???? Only every other house in Tamworth is having a bag delivered as they have “run out of bags”

  18. Information already in the public domain folks – LDC awarded a contract worth £456,400 to Cromwell Polythene Limited to supply kerbside recycling bags. The contract ends on the 23 August 2022.

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