Category: NewsWatch

Court Judgement On LCC 0 to 19 Public Health Services

Lancashire County Council  will not rerun its procurement process or re-tender for new bids for its public health nursing services for 0 to 19 year olds following a court judgement. Following a legal challenge to the County Council’s procurement of these services and a hearing at the High Court in April before Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, the judgment of the Court was announced at 10am today (Friday 22 June).

Lancashire County Council ran the procurement between September and November last year, with Virgin Care Services Limited coming out as the winning bidder chosen to deliver the 0 to 19 public health nursing services, which include health visitors and school nurses. This prompted a legal challenge from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation trust, who currently deliver the service, questioning the county council’s procurement process.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith made findings in respect of a number of issues, but found against the Trusts on all but one of these. Although the bidding process will not need to be re-run, the Court has ruled that ‘the decision of the council to award the contract to Virgin must be set aside’.

The court did find that the county council’s records of its moderation process fell short of the standards required to evidence the reasons for the scores awarded to the bidders. Consequently it had no choice but to rule that the council cannot proceed with awarding the contract to Virgin.

However, the remainder of the procurement process, including the way in which the panel members evaluated the bids, was found by the Court to have been conducted appropriately. Moderation is the final stage of the procurement process. It involves individual panel members meeting to discuss their scores for each specific question and their reasons for them so the panel can reach a final consensus score.

County Councillor Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said “Putting services out to the market is not a political decision, it is simply part of what the County Council is required to do in order to meet its legal obligations. Although we’re disappointed in the outcome of this judgement, we are reassured with the exception of the moderation element the County Council’s procurement processes was appropriate and that individual panel members were not found to be at fault.

“However, following this judgement, we accept that we cannot award the contract at this time. We will not be re-running the procurement or inviting new bids as only the moderation, the final step in the procurement process, was considered to be flawed. We are now considering our options about the next steps.

“Our existing contract with LCFT and Blackpool NHS Teaching Hospitals Trust runs until March 2019 so there will be no disruption to these services. We recognise this is a stressful time for our health visitors and school nurses. We value the vital role they play and will continue to support them in delivering the best outcomes for our children and families.”

Ethical Standards In Public Office

Rosie Cooper  Labour West Lancashire seems to have someone in mind as she asked the Minister for the Cabinet Office “What assessment he has made of the efficacy of systems to maintain ethical standards for people who hold public office”?

Chloe Smith MP,  the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip, replied “All those who hold public office are expected to maintain high standards of behaviour and uphold the highest standards of propriety. The Government is confident that the relevant Codes of Conduct for Ministers, Special Advisers and Civil Servants clearly set out the standards of behaviour expected of them in their roles. Furthermore, all public office holders are expected to observe the Seven Principles of Public Life which are included within these codes”.

20 Years Of West Lancashire Pensioners’ Forum Dignity

On Tuesday 19 June the West Lancashire Pensioners’ Forum (WLPF)  celebrated 20 years of dignified representation of, and campaigning for, older people in West Lancashire. They did so in the presence of some special guests, Councillor Joan Burrows, Older Persons Champion for Lancashire, LCC/WLBC Nikki Hennessy, and LCC/WLBC Terry Aldridge. In the past year they have supported us by approving our grant applications which have helped to keep our very popular group solvent and enabling the afternoon to be a gift to our members. as a ‘thank you’ for their constant support.

As Veronica Prescott, Secretary of the Forum said, “the Forum, which was originally founded by Mr Charlie Denton, met in St Anne’s Parochial Hall to enjoy an afternoon of entertainment, provided by two very funny ladies ‘Senior Moments’, delicious food from “Yummies”, followed by bingo, a raffle and a quiz.

“We also received a £600 Grant towards the event from The John Laing Foundation and were extremely grateful to have been awarded this funding. Full marks too to Father Godric of St. Anne’s who allows the group to meet there free of charge. It was a very successful afternoon and we are already planning another trip in September”.

Margaret Boulton is Chair of the Forum, supported by Veronica as Secretary, Reg Prescott as Treasurer, Thelma Culshaw vice Chair, Shirley Hughes vice Sec, and Jim Bevan our past Treasurer, all on our current Committee. The vice Treasurer is Stella Connor who provides a special link to the past, as she is the daughter of founder the late Charlie Denton. 

It’s worth remembering some events the WLPF was involved with, especially fighting against the disgraceful removal of the travel concession that led to a four-fold increase in Dial a Ride and the start of social isolation for many elderly and disabled residents.

WLPF also supported the joint campaign with Rosie Cooper MP for a cemetery and crematorium provision in West Lancashire, raising the 2,000+ name petition. As Rosie said “I welcome the hard work and effort of West Lancashire Pensioners Forum to raise awareness of this awful situation”

. This pic of the dignitaries is by Roger Blaxall who attended to report the event in his own inimitable QLocal style. We hope the WLPF continues for another 20 years.

The Pride In Being A Brexit Lunatic

A senior British diplomat working for the EU has been exposed as a rabid pro-EU Twitter troll who says he wants Britain to “fail hard”. Chris Kendall, his pic who admits Brexit has taken over his life, spends large amounts of his time trolling Leave voters online, despite working full time for the EU External Action Service, the EU’s equivalent of the Foreign Office. He wrote “I tweet in a strictly personal capacity, and my right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by the EU staff regulations. Sometimes I’m a little intemperate, but guess what? I’m human, and I feel strongly about this stuff”.

 The mandarin also co-hosts an anti-Brexit podcast and despite claiming to be operating in a personal capacity, spreads pro-EU propaganda throughout the working day under the Twitter handle @ottocrat. It is possible that the senior diplomat could fall foul of his employer, as it is unclear whether his constant barrage of abuse directed at Leave voters is part of his official duties.

In a professional capacity, he coordinates the monthly foreign policy meetings of European Commissioners, but privately tweeted “do not expect us to roll over and accept it” if Britain regained its independence. Chris Kendall told BrexitCentral that this tweet was “speaking as one of the 16.1 million who voted Remain in the referendum” but was not written as the position of the EU. He also said his employer had not instructed him to tweet support for the EU.

Kendall added:“The EU’s Staff Guidelines for Social Media and the EU Staff Regulations guarantee EU staff the right to freedom of expression, and I am taking advantage of that right to express myself in a purely personal capacity. I do not try to hide the fact that I work for the EU, I think this is important and useful context to know when reading my tweets or my blog, but I am always very clear that I’m expressing myself in a purely personal capacity, representing only myself.”

An EU spokesperson told BrexitCentral“Mr Kendall tweets in his personal capacity, which is also indicated in his twitter description. He tweets in his own time. He is not representing the views of the EU institutions, only his personal opinion.“Views of EU institutions are communicated through official channels, most notably by Brexit negotiator M Barnier and TF 50 [Taskforce on Article 50 negotiations]”.

Kendall, who has dual British-German nationality, claims Brexit is an “assault on democracy“, and has urged his followers to be “extremely wary” of everyone who doesn’t view Brexit as a “personal moral emergency”.

His troll account, which describes Brexiteers as “lunatics” is followed by the UK Foreign Office, where he used to work as a Senior Policy Advisor. He frequently uses Twitter mob tactics to rally his followers who then attack individuals who voted Leave.

Kendall has not made it clear to his followers that under Article 11 of the rights and obligations of officials, he is legally obliged to promote the interests of the EU. However one of his colleagues, Roy Dickinson, has been clear with his followers about his legal obligation. Kendall initially made his Twitter account private after being contacted by BrexitCentral, but it is now back online.

Reading these views of a rabid dual nationality remoaner made me doubly proud to be one of the 17.4 million brexiteers.  Lord Moat, Dominic Grieve, Heidi Allen, Kenneth Clarke, Phillip Lee, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston, you all tripled my pride, well done!

Rosie Cooper Voted Aye

Opposition West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper  voted Aye for the Lords amendment to give parliament a “meaningful vote”, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: Lords Amendment 19P amendment (b) today. The Government won by 16 votes. 

We Are Not Amused

In Parliament yesterday the future of the House of Lords was considered in Committee that debated the motion “Give the electorate a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords. The House of Lords is a place of patronage where unelected and unaccountable individuals hold a disproportionate amount of influence and power which can be used to frustrate the elected representatives of the people”.

It was a farce, as we read that “The hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden) talked about hereditary peers. The daft thing is that, with the 92 who are left, it is a halfway house. I understand why people are concerned about the House of Lords and either want to change it or question its legitimacy. In 2016, we had a ridiculous situation when there was a by-election for one of the Members of the House of Lords. A Lib Dem peer, Lord Avebury, died, and seven hereditary peers from around the country were put up for election, but the electorate was only three. How daft is it to have an electorate that is half the size of the field of candidates? It makes a mockery of the process, so we clearly need to look at the situation”.

It is worth noting that the electorate of 3 mentioned above all voted, [stand up Viscount Thurso , expenses claimed £32,235], a 100% turnout! The elected Lord thereafter enjoys, like the whole sorry bunch of them, the perk that they pay no tax on their House of Lords earnings or allowances? “We have Lords such as, I hesitate to use the word “noble” Lord Hanningfield, who was caught in his routine of clocking in and clocking out, wandering into the Palace of Westminster for a couple of minutes, signing on and getting his £300 a day tax free”.

We are definitely not amused. To paraphrase James Otis circa 1761, “No representatives without taxation”. As one committee member said “The Minister will recall the point in my speech about Members of the House of Lords who perhaps do not still have all their faculties. The Government have spoken about provisions that have been put in place to allow people to retire; what provisions are in place to ensure that people in the House of Lords are actually still able to do their job?”. What a very good question!

NHS Re-Employed NHS Fraudster!

 Rosie Cooper MP asked in Parliament “Will the Secretary of State encourage NHS England to respond to my freedom of information request of 13 March this year regarding Greater Manchester Shared Services and the likely failure of the NHS to correctly enforce guidance on recruiting agency staff in the reappointment of Deborah Hancox after her criminal conviction and two-year prison sentence for defrauding the NHS? How can we employ these people?”

 Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State for Health and Social Care replied “The hon. Lady has highlighted what is potentially an extremely serious issue. Obviously the FOI is a matter for NHS England, but let me reassure her that the Minister for Health, my hon. Friend Stephen Barclay—the hospitals Minister—met the chief executive of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority this morning”.

Yes, but what happened at the meeting about the “extremely serious issue”?