The Leader of Cheshire East Council admitted at a Council meeting on Thursday 17 October that procurement consultants had been appointed without following the normal procurement process and without any competitive tendering. This move, justified by the Council as an ‘urgent decision’, follows the Independent Auditor’s qualified audit report on Cheshire East Council over Value for Money, which picked out procurement as an area where the council is particularly weak.
The consultants have already identified £1.8m of savings. Put another way, the consultants have found that the Council has been wasting £1.8m a year in its procurement processes.
Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said “If the procurement consultants find that further work is necessary will that work be awarded to them without any competitive procurement exercise? Who will decide on the procurement of further services from the procurement consultants?”
Crewe South Councillor Steve Hogben, a member of the Audit and Governance Committee, observed “This latest ‘urgent’ measure has a strong whiff of panic about it. It looks like yet another knee-jerk reaction to external criticism, which seems to be the distinctive hallmark ofCheshire East Council at the moment. Where was the ‘due diligence’ in this case? If the council is making progress in a planned way on procurement activity, following the Lyme Green disaster, why the need for ‘urgent’ action?”
He added, “I really hope that this decision followed the considered advice of senior managers, as even in a politically ‘controlled’ council, somebody has to restrain the executive politicians on occasion. The senior managers have the job of ensuring politicians act lawfully and in that sense they have to try and guard the public from unwise or hasty actions, don’t they?”