Shit? Is it Thursday already? Must be time to report on this week’s fuck up by the city council’s head of legal services, Stephen McNamara.

At the end of last year the cabinet decided that Bristol City Council would use provisions in the Environmental Protection Act to start charging supermarkets to collect and return trolleys that had been abandoned around the city. A decent idea.

No doubt at considerable expense, a team of the council’s £50k-plus a year executive ‘experts’ drew up a report to enable the cabinet to pass this simple piece of legislation. This report should, of course, have included relevant and accurate input from McNamara’s legal team.

The cabinet considered the report at their meeting in December and voted unaminously to start stuffing it to the mulitinational supermarkets and make them pay to clear up their mess. No arguments with that.

From 8 March 2007 we were assured that the blight of supermarket trolleys abandoned across the city would be a thing of the past. Not to be I’m afraid.

8 March came and went without any sign of the council collecting supermarket trollies – let alone billing any supermarkets. This was acompanied by the sound of silence from the Council House on the matter.

That is until yesterday when the Lib Dem rubbish Czar, Gary Hopkins decided, for some reason, to publish a personal letter to Windmill Hill’s Labour candidate, Chris Orlik, in the pages of the Evening Cancer. Buried in it was this little gem:

“because of an administrative error by an ex-member of staff the supermarkets would be in a position to legally challenge any attempt by the council to impose recovery costs on supermarkets at this time”

Sorry? Could we have that one again Gary? “Because of an administrative error by an ex-member of staff”? I don’t think so. If supermarkets are “in a position to legally challenge” that’s a legal error contained in the drafting of your legislation.

And that’s the entire reponsibility of legal bald eagle McNamara…

And how big of him it is to wriggle out of responsibility by blaming an admin assistant from Pertemps on the minimum wage and then firing them.

What do we pay this idiot for exactly? Surely the point of him receiving £70k a year of council taxpayers’ money is that he doesn’t make schoolboy errors and costly blunders? And if he does isn’t he supposed to take responsibility, not blame the admin assistant? Apparently not in Bristol.

So is McNamara on a retainer from Tesco? Probably not. It’s just typical McNamara. His time in Bristol has been constantly marked by appalling errors of judgment and legally dubious decisions. Who can forget former councillor John Channon being allowed to jet from his Southern Ireland residence to Bristol to vote on the Crest Nicholson Harbourside development?

Or more recently, how any councillor – who happened to be a Rovers fan – was allowed to sit on the planning committee to decide their stadium expansion plan, whilst actual bona fide members of the committee were disqualified with the use of forged emails and cooked-up conflict of interest claims?

Since when has a bus driver had a conflict of interest on a planning committee because there’s a bus stop planned outside the development? Er… Since McNamara said so a few months back!

Perhaps the only thing less edifying than McNamara’s cowardly and career-saving behaviour in all this is Gary Hopkins buying into his third-rate arse-covering bullshit.

Hopkins should be chasing McNamara’s lazy, overpaid, under-performing arse out of this town. Not writing letters on his behalf blaming admin assistants for major and costly errors.

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2 Responses to Trolleygate

  1. Christopher Orlik says:

    Thanks for publicising this cock-up. I do know a bit more about it now and while I yield to no one in my distrust of the legal section of the council it does seem to be the case that the ex- officer who said she had talked to all the supermarkets had not in fact done so and as we know supermarkets are very powerful and have even deeper pockets than Bristol Council (though probably not as much property in Bristol).

    Current situation is that the supermarkets are paying a firm to collect trolleys and by all accounts they are being collected within 24 hours of being told by the council where they are. Thus if you see a trolley, just ring the council 9223838 and tell them where it is and this is passed on to the firm who then charge the supermarkets so at present it is costing the council nothing which is a good start.
    Hopefully now the supermarkets have been consulted, and there is no argument now about this, the cabinet will pass a resolution allowing the council to collect trolleys themselves and charge the stores IF the private scheme fails to work.

    Do keep up the pressure though.

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    “Thinking that what you essentially accomplish in this lifetime has some relevance is vital; it keeps you from submitting to the urge to be just like everyone else.”
    Bridget Petrella/CEO Nite Owl Productions

    This e-mail and any attachments may contain confidential and privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail, delete this e-mail and destroy any copies. Any dissemination or use of this information by a person other than the intended recipient is unauthorized and may be illegal.

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