HC Deb 20 June 1996 vol 279 cc512-4W
Mr. Stephen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further action he proposes to take against those local authorities whose direct labour and direct service organisations failed to meet their statutory financial objectives in 1994–95. [34208]

Sir Paul Beresford

On 2 April this year, 26 statutory notices were served on 22 local authorities concerning the failure of their direct labour and service organisations to meet the required financial objectives in 1994–95. My right hon. Friend has now considered the response to those notices, and has decided to give 22 directions to 20 local authorities.

The directions take the following three forms: requiring the authority to retender the work and to seek the consent of the Secretary of State if proposing to award the work in-house: Calderdale MBC (vehicle maintenance), Castle Morpeth borough council (highways and sewers), the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (sports and leisure management). preventing the authority from carrying out the work if it fails to meet the financial objective in a specified year or years: 1995–96 and 1996–97: the London borough of Hackney (schools and welfare catering). 1997–98 and 1998–99: Watford borough council (building maintenance). requiring authorities to retender the work if they fail to meet the financial objective in a specified year or years, and to seek the Secretary of State's consent where the work has to be retendered and where the authority subsequently wishes to award work in-house: 1995–96 and 1996–97: Bournemouth borough council (other cleaning), Broxbourne borough council (refuse collection, highways and sewers and grounds maintenance), Coventry city council (schools and welfare catering), Durham county council (building cleaning), Rochester upon Medway district council (grounds maintenance), Sedgefield district council (grounds maintenance), Selby district council (sports and leisure management), Southend-on-Sea borough council (grounds maintenance), South Kesteven district council (building maintenance), and Walsall MBC (grounds maintenance) 1996–97 and 1997–98: Charnwood borough council (other cleaning), Corby borough council (highways and sewers), Reigate and Banstead borough council (building maintenance), and Sevenoaks district council (refuse collection) 1996–97: North East Lincolnshire district council (refuse collection)

The Secretary of State has also decided to take no further statutory action in respect of financial failure in 1993–94 by: Crawley borough council (building maintenance), and Rochester upon Medway district council (highways and sewers).

The Secretary of State is still considering the response from Lichfield district council—other catering and sports and leisure managements.

To date, 45 notices have been served by the Department on 30 local authorities for losses incurred by their DLOs-DSOs in 1994–95. Today's decisions follow those announced on 13 May this year. Further notices for financial failure will be issued later in the year, and we expect to have announced all our decisions by the end of October.

This action continues our drive to ensure that taxpayers receive value-for-money services from their local authorities. Where authorities' in-house teams fail to achieve their financial targets, and where they do not seem to have taken the steps necessary to improve their performance, we will not hesitate to take statutory action in the interests of local taxpayers.