We are Community R4C and we need your support for our legal action against Gloucestershire County Council’s secretive and unlawful incinerator contract. This is a tale of council secrecy, mismanagement and law-breaking which is leading to the worst environmental and financial outcomes for the people of Gloucestershire.
Our challenge will expose this wrongdoing and hold those responsible to account.
Since early 2015, we have been fighting to obtain information from Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) about their contract with Urbaser Balfour Beatty for the Javelin Park Waste Incinerator, the largest public contract in the county's history. However they have opposed us at every turn, spending nearly half a million pounds of taxpayer’s money to protect their secrets.
Finally, on 20th December 2018, just before Christmas, and with the prospect of losing a second Information Tribunal, they released the pertinent facts, trying to ‘bury bad news’. We now know that:
- The contract price has increased by 30% in less than 3 years - a staggering £150m.
- The Council will pay £189 per tonne for 108,000 tonnes of waste per annum, whilst commercial companies will only pay £62 a tonne.
- By renegotiating the contract in secret without re-tendering, GCC broke procurement law.
- The contract breaks State Aid rules and, if proven, the contractor would be required to pay a substantial part of the £150m back to GCC.
- The contract is specifically structured to encourage the increase of ‘residual’ waste for burning and discourage recycling. The environmental/climate and health impact from burning this waste (wasted resources, air pollution, CO2 emissions) is very significant.
- Officers and Cabinet members misled councillors and the public about the contract price.
If the council had followed procurement law and retendered, they could have achieved a far better financial and environmental outcome for Gloucestershire. Community R4C, a Community Benefit Society run by volunteers and supported by over a hundred local community shareholder investors, planned to build a waste resource recovery plant, which would have been much cheaper, avoided the emissions of an incinerator, preserved valuable resources and put money back into the local community. We have submitted a legal challenge against Gloucestershire County Council under procurement law for damages due as a result of being denied the opportunity to bid for the contract.
If we win our case, although we can’t stop the incinerator (which is now nearly built), we will seek a commitment from the council to work closely with Community R4C to ensure that changes are made, including: removing the mechanism that gives incentives to recycle less and waste more; ensuring that third party gate fees are equal to those paid by the Council taxpayers; encouraging greater recycling and waste avoidance; pre-sorting waste to remove recyclable material; decommissioning or re-purposing the Incinerator as soon as it is economic to do so.
The scandal associated with Gloucestershire County Council’s heinous decision to commission the Javelin Park incinerator deepens by the day. I wholly commend the indefatigable efforts of Community R4C to force the Council to come clean on the decisions it has taken over the last few years, and to hold to account the Council’s CEO and other officials.
This critically important campaign has implications that go way beyond the wrongdoing of Gloucestershire County Council, going to the very heart of our democracy today. That’s why I’m enthusiastically supporting this crowdfunding campaign – and I hope that you will too.
Jonathon Porritt CBE
Help us challenge the unlawful, dishonest and secretive actions of our County Council and deter similar behaviour by public authorities across the nation by encouraging other local communities to stand up to unlawful practices.
You can help by:
- Making a donation to our legal costs on this page
- Investing by buying shares and becoming a shareholder member of Community R4C
- We welcome larger donations, but suggest you get in touch with us directly to discuss these.
- Providing a loan, repayable if we win the case (we think our chances are very good and we would aim to recover costs). Please note that because of Crowd Justice’s terms, we can only repay these in full if they are given to us directly
- Volunteering with Community R4C
Our legal costs will probably be much higher than our initial £10,000 target. We are exploring other donations and insurance, and are confident that, with your support we will be able to raise enough to pursue this case.
I thought it imperative to support Community R4C back in 2015 with their plans for a healthier Recycling Plant alternative to the Javelin Park mass-burn incinerator. That misguided project has been the subject of a decade-long saga of public persistence in the face of relentless council suppression and secrecy. Whilst deeply shocking, it is perhaps unsurprising therefore to learn of this latest development. The tragedy is that the present outcome was avoidable - if council officers and leaders had done their job with integrity and followed proper procedure, Community R4C's greener option could now have been operational in place of the Javelin Park monster. Those of us campaigning for a healthier and more economical solution always wondered whether something was rotten in the state of Glos County Council's secretive Cabinet, and I can only hope that now this has come out, the Council as a whole can put its house in order, investigate the situation fully and see what can be salvaged and, most importantly, learned from this financial and environmental mess.
Jeremy Irons, Actor
There are no public comments on this case page.