Many of your readers may have become bored with stories about Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) lamentable failure to deliver efficiently the Wiltshire Council grass cutting contract. However, going by the phone calls I am receiving, instances of this failure still abound.
A woman rang me demanding to know why the grass in front of County Hall was being cut yet again – yes, on a Saturday – when other areas still had not been cut at all this year.
Forceful questioning has made the council’s Cabinet member John Thomas publicly to apologise for the overall failure of grass cutting this year. He said BBLP are “drinking in the last chance saloon”.
Later the new BBLP manager – the previous one has been sacked – also apologised to me personally. However, as I replied, apologies are not enough — residents want action. When I pressed this point, Wiltshire Council officers asked me to stop putting on the pressure for at least three weeks to give BBLP time to get back on track. My response was to query why they were derailed in the first place.
After I made these points, a number of Conservative councillors came up to me saying how bad the grass was in their patch. I asked why, then, they didn’t complain. They admitted that they were under party orders “not to rock the boat”.
This, I am afraid, is often the reality at County Hall. Back bench Conservative councillors regularly line up like docile sheep to support Jane Scott’s of their leader Jane Scott’s administration.
Except, that is, for one Conservative. I have to give full credit to Councillor Graham Payne, who has fearlessly supported me in all my criticisms of Wiltshire Council and BBLP’s grass failure. Graham is the exception that proves the rule.
If residents remain dissatisfied with BBLP’s attempts at grass cutting, please still contact me and I will maintain the pressure.
Personally, I have serious doubts that BBLP are fit for purpose on this aspect of their £24 million mega contract. Wiltshire Council may well have to let them go, as they did with the recently departed BBLP manager.
Independent Wiltshire Councillor