S2
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
SBC
Index
Saturday 15 December 2012
#3
EXCLUSIVE

Council ignores defective Baylis Park lamp for 2 years

'Excellent Customer Services' fails to leave warm and cosy council offices

By Jayne Hamilton • Pictures by Paul Janik
Somewhere in the darkness is a light

During the past two years, Slough Borough Council's fat cats have enjoyed excellent high salaries and more perks than 95% of Slough families could ever dream about, whilst seeming reluctant to fix the non-working light in nearby Baylis Park - permanently off for two years.

People living in the borough, and that excludes the vast majority of top council officials enjoying lucrative affluence at the public's expense, know historic Baylis Park is a short walk of 5 minutes from the council's luxurious 5-star headquarters building at 51 Bath Road, on the corner of Montem Lane.

The easiest way to see defective lights is to look at them in the dark. If no light is visible, it is pretty obvious to most people, the light is not working. We can not speak for Slough Council who may have goods reasons why they can not identify defective lights on public thoroughfares. Too lazy to look ?

Baylis Park in the Summer Time

Keen to impress the public it possesses the intellectual ability necessary to turn-on lights in a public park, Slough Borough Council proudly, every day of the week including Sundays, turns-on all Baylis Park lights, except this one, in the bright afternoon sunlight as early as 15:55 (five minutes to four o'clock).

The Slough Times thought the idea was to turn-on outdoor lights when it gets dark, not in the bright afternoon sunlight.

Baylis Park Light 015

People, sometimes on their own, including unaccompanied women, walk from the town centre, bus station and railway station through Baylis Park because the bus services are often pathetically inadequate. Most ordinary people can not afford expensive taxi fares, unlike the council's fat cats, so they walk home in the dark and cold.

The Slough Times thinks a competent council, properly organised, genuinely serving the public, and really caring about the locals, would have little problem changing a light bulb -- it is not a difficult intellectual task.

Who is in charge at the council ?

  1. The chief councillor, part-time, Rob Anderson (Labour, Britwell), paid £26,000 p.a. Mr Anderson calls himself The Leader of the Council.
  2. The deputy chief councillor, part-time, James Swindlehurst (Labour, Cippenham Green), paid £20,000 p.a. Mr Swindlehurst calls himself The Deputy Leader of the Council.
  3. The chief executive, full-time, Ruth Bagley, paid £190,000 p.a. Mrs Bagley is also called the Head of Paid Service and, in law, is responsible for all the council operations and staff including their failings.

[SOLA 011104]

Notifying Slough Borough Council

We asked Slough Borough Council

  1. When did Baylis Park light 015 last work ?
  2. When was it last inspected ?
  3. Is the council currently waiting for the third anniversary of it being out before repairing it ?

Slough Borough Council replied

Providing excellent customer services is one of the council's key priorities.

and

The Councils records show the light was inspected on 29/11/12 and was in working order

The Slough Times wonders who fiddled the council's accurate records.

We asked Slough Council if the light was still working. Council officials declined to reply, so we had a look. This is what we found.

Obviously changing a light bulb is a very difficult intellectual and technical job.
Lying to the public is a lot easier.

Slough Borough Council explains

28 January 2013

I have investigated the content of your latest email dated 16th January 2013 and am responding under Stage 2 of the Council's complaints procedure.

As detailed in the FoI response dated 2 January 2013 street light 015 Baylis Park was scouted by the Council's contractor in November 2012. The results of this scout did not pick up a fault on this street light and this was the information that we supplied to you in our response under FoI. This was a correct response in terms of information held by the Council at that time. However following my review under stage 2 I do recognise that the Council should have checked this information was correct by carrying out a further inspection of street light 015, to ensure it was in working order; I am sorry this did not take place.

On receipt of your email's of the 2nd and 5th January 2013 including a photograph of the defective street light the Council's contractor was instructed to attend street light 015. Following this inspection the fault was observed and a repair was undertaken.

The Council has a street lighting maintenance contract with Scottish and Southern Electrical Contracting (SSEC) who are based at Primary Road in Chalvey. Under this contract SSEC have a responsibility to undertake scouts of the street lighting stock in hours of darkness, looking for faults. In addition to these inspections SSEC have a programme of cyclic maintenance for street lighting, agreed with the Council, which aims to minimise faults occurring by carrying out cleaning and bulb changes on a cyclic basis. This generally works well, however I can only apologise why on this occasion the non working street light 015 was not picked up during the SSEC scout. I will ensure this is raised in the next monthly contract operations meeting with SSEC to ascertain how this could have happened.

Despite this we feel the Council's agreed maintenance regime with SSEC is generally robust and fit for purpose. However there are occasions when faults will occur that cannot be prevented by cyclic maintenance and routine scouting; such as vehicle damage/collisions/vandalism. On such occasions the Council also rely on reports from residents and businesses via the Council's Customer Service Centre.

Please be assured this matter will be followed up with SSEC and appropriate action taken to improve our processes.

Alex Deans
Head of Highways Engineering
Slough Borough Council

The Slough Times Assertion

Labour's council privatisation scheme means Slough Borough Council appoints contractors to perform council activities and rewards them with the public's money.

Surprisingly Slough Council does not carry-out many, if any, routine checks on the contractors' work.

If the contractor is negligent and falsifies or causes wrong information to be entered into council records, the blame is the council's. Although the council delegates council work to the contractor, the satisfactory completion of that work remains the legal responsibility of the council.

Essentially

  • The work is delegated, not the council's responsibility to provide the service, although Slough Council mandarins are unable to comprehend the distinction.
  • Public complaints should not be made to the contractor but to the council because the council is responsible in law.
  • The council's delegation of council work to contractors does not remove or diminish the council's inherent responsibility to adequately and effectively supervise the contractor's performance.

Ultimately the responsibility belongs to:-

  1. The council's chief executive, Ruth Bagley. Mrs Bagley is lawfully responsible.
  2. The council's chief councillor, Rob Anderson (Labour). Mr Anderson is known for his hands-off style of management.
  3. The public who voted Labour and those who did not vote at council elections.
  4. The United Kingdom government for repeatedly failing to create a statutory regulator for local government (i.e. councils) in England.
A member of the public supplied these links:-
Sexual assault in adjoining Salt Hill Park
Park lighting is important