The chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) Sylvia Lim has accused the National Environment Council (NEA) of being "politically motivated to tarnish the image" of her council.
In the latest salvo fired in the long-running dispute between the Workers' Party-run council and the NEA over the cleaning of hawker centres in Bedok, Ms Lim said she found the agency's latest claims "puzzling and unprofessional as a government agency".
The NEA on Thursday accused the council of trying to get hawkers to pay extra for cleaning, and attempting to "deflect blame" when that failed.
She maintained that AHPETC staff never approached stallholders to pay extra charges for cleaning.
"Has any stallholder been approached by AHPETC staff or its contractors for the extra charges? If so, please make it public," she said on Friday.
The NEA last weekend released a letter from hawkers at Block 511 Bedok North Street 3 stating that AHPETC's property manager Mr Tai Vie Shun had told them they would need to pay extra for scaffolding for high area cleaning.
The NEA has also said the council's cleaning contractor, ATL Maintenance had a quotation for the cleaning of the entire premises of Block 538, including scaffolding, implying that AHPETC was aware of the full scope of works its contractor was supposed to do but yet tried to "deflect costs of $7,200 to the hawkers" instead of paying for the bill.
Ms Lim reiterated that ATL's quotation was in response to a "separate request by the hawker association", and that all cleaning contractors under AHPETC are "well aware" of their obligation to clean high areas.
She questioned if NEA was "playing politics", given that AHPETC had "positively responded" and "welcomed" an earlier NEA advisory reminding the council of its legal duties, which are to clean common areas and bearing all costs.
"Therefore, it is regrettable that our attempts to resolve the issue amicably have not been reciprocated, with the government taking the opportunity to point fingers at AHPETC, alleging that it was AHPETC which was "deflecting blame". Who is really the party deflecting blame? I set out the facts above and I believe that the public can judge for itself," she said.