“To defer any decision on the Council resolutions until they can be considered alongside up-to-date and appropriate technical , financial and legal information.”
This is despite the Full Council passing 2 resolutions on 27th September calling for the contract to be terminated. The resolutions don’t state a timescale. Although the Full Council’s opinion has strong weight, the Cabinet has the Executive authority to make the decisions.
Cllr Eldret asked a direct question as to whether Resource Recovery Solutions was in breach of contract. A legal Officer, confirmed that the “long stop date” was the 30 September 2018 and that RRS were in breach under the terms of the Project Agreement
The Chief Legal Officer made the point that the Cabinet must make “rational” decisions. He highlighted that all technical ( i.e. state of the readiness of the plant), legal and financial ramifications were in the process of being assessed and would be available to the administration by 19th October 2018.
Cllr Holmes, Deputy Leader from the Conservative administration attended the meeting. He further added that:
- the plant had cost around £190m so far ( Neither Derby City, nor Derbyshire County Council have paid any money so far. They are due to pay £25m each, on successful completion- if the contract is terminated then no money will be paid.)
- there were on-going discussions with the contractor RRS, over how much compensation it would pay to the Councils for agreeing to waive the contract termination until 31 December 2018. [This was a surprising revelation ]
- the Conservative administration was now looking to have internal cross-party discussions with the various leaders. Cllr Eldret, angrily, pointed out that no one had previously approached her, or the other leaders, to have discussions that were desperately needed a few weeks ago – in her words ” you have messed up the politics”.
2 recommendations were made to the Cabinet, the primary one was to re-assert that termination should take place with immediate effect.
No one would be comfortable with the Cabinet making a decision in the absence of complete information. There was general consternation as to why this work had not been done many months ago – the end date of 30 September 2018 was specified in the 2009 contract. Of course it was also well within the gift of the previous Labour administration to have initiated this before May 2018.
The politics certainly have been messed up, the direction of the Full Council, and the local residents is clear, the opportunity exists to correct this sorry situation in the lead up to the full information being available by the 19th. Time for full, frank, open, consultative decisions to ensure that the next step is the correct one.
The balance of proof is now with the contractor – they must unequivocally demonstrate that they have a plan, a process, and a plant that can deliver to their agreed contractual obligations, including the savings. One that is demonstrated with such rigour that it justifies the payment of £25m. If they can’t, then the Councils must proceed with termination – there is no other choice! And they have 10 days!
As Cllr Holmes said, this contract termination is ” one of the biggest decisions that the Council will ever take”.
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