IN A blistering attack on Hillingdon Council, John McDonnell has called for the government to take control, clean up the council's affairs 'and restore confidence in local government in my area.'
And using Parliamentary privliege to make serious allegations about the council, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington has hinted at council corruption and questioned its administrative competence.
In response, Councillor Ray Puddifoot (below), the leader of Conservative Hillingdon Council, has challenged Mr McDonnell to put up or shut up.
"If there is any substance to his allegations he can repeat them outside the House of Commons, otherwise we will treat his remarks with contempt", he told the Gazette.
Mr McDonnell has gone further - much further - than the complaints he made to the Gazette back in October when we reported the case of Triscott House, a new elderly care facility in Avondale Drive, Hayes.
He was seething at the delay of more than a year to re-home tenants who had lived in the building it replaced.
"Rumours were flying in the area about the delay, and I called for an independent investigation into the catastrophic failure of the council to deliver the new facility on time. The council refused," Mr McDonnell told the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday).
"There was coverage in the local press," he went on, "and after that I was sent, anonymously, information on the cause of the delay."
"I wish to draw attention to the mismanagement and - some fear - worse of contracts by Hillingdon Council."
He has now called on communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles, to send in commissioners to clean up Hillingdon Council's affairs.
"For some time, I have raised in the House my constituents’ concerns about the administrative competence and probity of Hillingdon Council, but recent events have confirmed the need for more serious and urgent action," he told the House, before going on to make a serious allegation about the contractor who built Triscott House.
He claims it was told to switch costs from another job it was working on to the Avondale Drive project, and describe it as 'design fees'.
Mr McDonnell also accuses the council of incompetence over the Botwell Green Sports and Leisure Centre contract.
The centre and pool in East Avenue, Hayes, cost approximately £30m.
Mr McDonnell said: "After the exposure of the Triscott House fiasco in the local press, the floodgates opened, with information being sent anonymously, or by residents, about other council contracts.
"The information revealed that the new swimming pool leisure centre, recently constructed in my constituency, began construction without a contract, only by exchange of letters of intent.
"Now the centre has sprung leaks, and without a contract the council is exposed to the cost of repairs."
But Mr McDonnell's most serious allegations are over housing maintenance contracts by Hillingdon Homes, the council's housing arm that was converted to 'arm's length' status, then brought back in house in 2010.
"Five years ago, and again in 2010, I raised the disgracefully poor performance of the council contractor with regard to the repair and refurbishment of Avondale flats in my area," said Mr McDonnell.
"It has now been revealed that, as we suspected, there were irregularities in the award and administration of these housing maintenance contracts. They do not comply with council standing orders."
"The situation has gone beyond anything that is acceptable. Up to £50m of work and contracts are now associated with irregularities in Hillingdon.
"My constituents and local taxpayers are suffering now and cannot wait any longer for redress.
"At meeting after meeting, residents are alleging backhanders, brown envelopes and various fiddles.
"I have no answer for them."
In a grudging acceptance that there may be more to events than he says meets the eye, Mr McDonnell told Parliament: "There may be reasons why contracts were not awarded and why a £30m swimming pool was done with a letter of intent.
"If those reasons are valid, then fair enough. However, my understanding is that they have opened up the council to real risk.
"The scale of mismanagement is appalling."
Mr Puddifoot told the Gazette on Friday morning: "If it involves finance we take no notice of John McDonnell. He has a history of using Parliamentary privilege when he has no facts to substantiate his claims.
"If there is any substance to his allegations, he can repeat them outside the House of Commons, otherwise we will treat his remarks with contempt".
"After Christmas we will invite him to give us some specific details.
"I want him to give me the information he has and I will give the Gazette the response I get."