Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Fifth Report



  Further to your correspondence with Dr Aickin, the former ebco Chairman, who was questioned by the Committee, I wish the following comments to be published with Dr Aickin's materials, so that readers of the Committee's report are acquainted with both parties' views.

  I now understand from Dr Aickin, that you will publish his views on the transcript of our evidence, together with his personal dissatisfaction about ENTRUST's replies to Members' questions. As you know, the present ebco Chairman and Board submitted a Memorandum to the Committee that was completely different from Dr Aickin's views and statements. Indeed, in his oral examination, Dr Aickin himself, partly withdrew some of the more extreme statements in his draft.

  Regarding Dr Aickin's opinions on Q839, he is quite correct that the Regulations do not require that Contributing Third Parties (CTPs) inform ENTRUST about their payments to Operators. In many ways it would be more efficient if they did so, but the Regulations do require both Operators and EBs to notify us of CTP payments. It is not true to say, as Dr Aickin claims, that we "get to know the identity of the third party contributors and how they come by this information is less important." The essential point from an audit perspective is that information is more reliable if it is confirmed by an independent route.

  Re Q868, Dr Aickin claims that his justification for overspending is that ebco was, in effect, under duress (a "horse-trade") when he agreed to abide by the £75,000 for a mutually agreed programme. In fact, much of the overspend was due to Dr Aickin's personal fees and expenses of more than £29,000. As a yardstick, Dr Aickin's fees and expenses were greater than the ENTRUST Chairman's combined remuneration and expenses of less than £27,000, during 2000. Claiming that the overspend was "a testament of a kind of its adequacy", given that he had agreed to it, seems to imply that he never had any intention of complying with it.

  Dr Aickin attempts to compare ebco's budget with the ENTRUST Board's remuneration. Such a comparison is spurious, as the ENTRUST Board controls a budget of £1.5 million and is responsible to HM Customs & Excise for the scrutiny and assurance of compliance of all EBs with the Regulations. In contrast, ebco's role was (is) to feed back EBs' opinions to ENTRUST and to review proposed changes to administrative rules, forms, etc on behalf of its membership. It seems that, under Dr Aickin's leadership, the opinions fed back were largely his own, rather than those of a wider audience and he proved to be very slow in organising any review sessions for proposed administrative changes, resulting in ENTRUST having to do it for him.

  It is to be noted that the new ebco leadership has undertaken to control its budget and comply with its agreements. It shows every sign of honoring its agreement and achieving its objectives.

  Dr Aickin's final point concerns the continuing fallacy that the ENTRUST Board is dominated by members with experience of the waste industry. Certainly Lord Cranbrook is the Chairman of Shanks Waste Solutions' Environmental Advisory Board, but he is not employed by Shanks. He was also non-executive director of Anglian Water plc, which has landfill operator subsidiary. Neither makes Lord Cranbrook a "representative" of the waste industry as Dr Aickin implies, since he has also been a distinguished Parliamentarian (amongst other things, Chairman of the Lords' Environment Select Committee), a local councillor, director or trustee of numerous voluntary sector organisations, Chairman of English Nature, an academic, etc, etc.

  Similarly, Dr Kevin Bond, recently appointed as a director with experience of general industry, including waste producers, has some, albeit fairly limited waste industry experience, but much more relevant to ENTRUST's interests are his other attributes as a widely experienced businessman, in addition to his track-record as a police superintendent.

  ENTRUST has never sought to deny the above and is disappointed that Dr Aickin continues to raise this issue which has been answered several times. All ENTRUST directors' interests have been available for public inspection in a published list. All directorships of companies and charitable trusts have always, of course, been available for public inspection through Companies' House and the Charity Commission.

  Equally relevant, although omitted from Dr Aickin's complaints, are the recent additions to the Board that extend the range of experience and expertise available to the Company, including two further directors with significant knowledge of the voluntary sector and local government.

Dr Richard Sills
Chief Executive

February 2001

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