Why did Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority pay a PR agency £650 + VAT a day?
This year I went to the offices of Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (previously called Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority) where I inspected various invoices and contracts that relate to the 2014/15 financial year.
Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority deal with the rubbish collected by each council on Merseyside, provide thirteen Household Waste Recycling Centres (the ones on the Wirral are the Bidston Household Waste Recycling Centre in Wallasey Bridge Road, Clatterbridge Household Waste Recycling Centre in Mount Road and West Kirby Household Waste Recycling Centre in Greenbank Road) and are also responsible for closed landfill sites such as the one at Bidston Moss.
Their 2014/15 budget was £68.6 million which comes from a levy on each on the Merseyside councils which each have to pay based on a tonnage basis. Councillor Irene Williams (Labour) and Councillor Steve Williams (Conservative) represent Wirral Council on the Merseyside Waste and Recycling Authority.
In 2005 after a tender exercise MRWA (then called Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority) appointed Daniel Harris Associates for “the provision of public relations and communications services for Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority”. DH Communications Limited (also known as Daniel Harris Associates or DHA) won the tender exercise with a bid of £650 per a day (see letter below).
The tender that DHA won was for a three-year contract from 1st November 2005 to the 1st November 2008. DHA were paid £25,200 a year for 3 and a half days work each month. However at some point in 2009 Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority realised that “The contract with DHA was not reviewed in line with its prescribed timetable resulting in the continuation of the contract beyond the specified term.” (see pages below).
Carl Beer is Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority’s Chief Executive. The contract was retrospectively extended from the 1st November 2008 to 1st November 2009 and an extra 12 months was added which extended the contract to 2010.
In 2014 there were a number of emails between DHA and Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority in relation to how DHA would be charging Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority in future.
Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority were at this stage paying DHA a £1,625 monthly retainer. However DHA wrote in an email that they felt “the authority has not always maximised the value of the fee it pays to us: i.e. it has made minimal call on our services”. They set out a number of options:
DHA estimated that over the last two to three years that the average cost of the work Merseyside Waste and Recycling Authority had asked them to do was £990 + VAT a month (whilst they were being paid a £1,625 monthly retainer). Option one would keep the monthly retainer but reduce it to £990 + VAT instead.
DHA would charge Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority on a project basis at £600 + VAT a day.
DHA would charge Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority a monthly retainer of £600 + VAT a month, but if they needed more work from DHA then they would be charged £600 a day.
Merseyside Waste and Recycling Authority decided to go for option 2 (from April 2015). The emails that go into the detail of these negotiations are below.
Below are a number of the invoices submitted to Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority during the 2014/15 financial year.
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