The Environment Agency (EA) has today terminated its contract with District Enforcement for enforcement of EA visitor mooring time limits on the Thames and District Enforcement will cease operations on 31st August 2021. In an email to members of the Thames Navigation Users Forum, the EA said the decision was made “following a review that subsequently identified issues with our internal procurement processes, rather than as a result of any fault by District Enforcement”.
On 20th June 2021 the NBTA made a complaint to Sir James Bevan, EA Chief Executive, that District Enforcement had given false information about its relationship with the NBTA in its tender for the EA enforcement contract, and that the unquestioning acceptance of these false statements demonstrated a lack of due diligence on the part of the EA. The actions we demanded in remedy of our complaint included that the EA should:
- Withdraw the tender from District Enforcement retrospectively from the tender process on the grounds that it contained a falsehood and therefore the EA no longer has confidence that the requirements of the contract will be met.
- Consequently remove District Enforcement from the management and enforcement of the EA’s short term mooring stay times on the River Thames.
- Re-run the tender process carrying out genuine scrutiny and due diligence of the tenders submitted.
Despite the fact that all of the above actions will now be taken by the EA, the NBTA still has not received a substantive response to its complaint.
This is the email from the EA:
This is the full text of the NBTA complaint, draw your own conclusions…
Dear Sir James,
FORMAL COMPLAINT: TENDER FROM DISTRICT ENFORCEMENT
This is a formal complaint in line with the Environment Agency (EA) complaints procedure. I refer to the tender from District Enforcement for the contract to carry out management and enforcement of mooring stay times at EA owned short stay moorings on the River Thames that was released under the Freedom of Information Act and is online here:
It has come to the attention of the National Bargee Travellers Association that the tender from District Enforcement contained a falsehood about our association.
The tender included information about the requirement for:
“An understanding of the expectations and requirements of boaters and boating businesses and other river users/riverside communities”
District Enforcement’s tender stated the following under the above heading:
“District has a unique awareness of the various concerns and problems faced by boaters, businesses, river users and communities. Whether it’s Community Action Groups, the Bargee Association or Historic Royal Palaces, District has approached each contact with sensitivity and professionalism….
As a former Director of the River Thames Alliance, Dyl was involved in stakeholder engagement to provide fair access to all parties. His knowledge and understanding of the expectations of boaters and the boating community feeds the operational direction of District.”
The above statement is entirely false in relation to the National Bargee Travellers Association for the following reasons:
Firstly, District Enforcement has failed to use the correct name of our association.
Secondly, District Enforcement has never approached the National Bargee Travellers Association either with or without sensitivity and professionalism. The National Bargee Travellers Association has never received any direct approach from District Enforcement and neither has our association made any such contact with the company. This applies both to Mr Danylo Kurpil’s position in the River Thames Alliance and to the activities of District Enforcement generally.
Thirdly, the National Bargee Travellers Association has not agreed to and indeed was not asked by District Enforcement whether it could use the above statement about our association in its tender.
For the avoidance of doubt, the only contact between the National Bargee Travellers Association and District Enforcement has been indirectly through the Reading County Court in relation to District Enforcement’s claim against a boat dweller who was assisted by our association in 2019. District Enforcement failed to comply with the directions of the Court and failed to appear at the final hearing. The Court consequently struck out the claim brought by District Enforcement on 1st May 2019. This behaviour demonstrates that District Enforcement’s approach to boaters and river users is unprofessional and insensitive.
The unquestioning acceptance of these false statements demonstrates a lack of due diligence on the part of the EA.
To remedy our complaint please take the following action:
• Withdraw the tender from District Enforcement retrospectively from the tender process on the grounds that it contained a falsehood and therefore the EA no longer has confidence that the requirements of the contract will be met.
• Consequently remove District Enforcement from the management and enforcement of the EA’s short term mooring stay times on the River Thames.
• Re-run the tender process carrying out genuine scrutiny and due diligence of the tenders submitted.
• Provide the National Bargee Travellers Association with an apology in writing.
The EA has still not provided a substantive response but Emma Hill, Acting Area Director Thames on behalf of Julia Simpson, Area Director Thames, sent the following acknowledgement:
“Thank you for your email dated 20 June 2021 to our Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan regarding the tender received from District Enforcement Ltd. James has read your email and asked me to respond on his behalf. He will receive a copy of this letter.
I am grateful for your enquiry and have asked my local Waterways team, who are currently managing our moorings management contract, to obtain a written response from District Enforcement Ltd relating to your specific points. Once we have received this, my Waterways staff will review it with our legal advisors and will be able to respond to your enquiry in more detail.”