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Jistcourt council contract saga continues

 
Created on 09/08/2019 @ 12:18
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Senior Powys county councillors have been asked to explain what role they had in giving building contracts to Jistcourt and Dawnus who went bankrupt earlier this year while undertaking significant contracts for the authority.

A special meeting was held by the Audit Committee to find out how and why contracts were given to Dawnus to build three schools and Jistcourt to build flats in Newtown, when they were on the verge of collapse.

Porfolio holder for Finance, Cllr Aled Davies, and Portfolio Holder for Corporate Governance, Housing & Public Protection, Cllr James Evans, explained that they knew very little of what was going on.

Audit committee chairman, Cllr John Morris, said: “We have two portfolio holders here, can I ask both of you what involvement if any you had in procurement in particular the areas of Dawnus and Jistcourt?”

Cllr Davies, who has overall responsibility for procurement, said: “I had no direct involvement.

“It does come down to the service and it was the head of service at the time who signed it off.”

Cllr Evans said: “We have little input. It’s to make sure there is no favouritism given by politicians, which I think is right. We look at the overall process.”

Cllr Tim van Rees asked how the portfolio holders would be briefed by staff on the contracts process?

Cllr Evans said: “On the Jistcourt issue, I was just told there were a number of companies bidding and going through the process. At the time I was not given the names of those companies.

“I and other portfolio holders get updates of where we are at with these processes. We can question if these businesses are sound – and we get assurances of a yes or no.

“By the time we get to final tender we get told that “company X” has been awarded the contract.”

“Do you have regular meetings from the procurement side of things or just advice on an ad-hoc basis as and when the head of service feels you should be advised?” asked Cllr van Rees.

Cll Evans added: “I meet my heads of service on a fortnightly or monthly basis and the procurement process would be brought up as part of the fortnightly, monthly or quarterly update.”

Head of finance, Jane Thomas, explained that cabinet members agreed the policy, the capital programme and a strategic direction, but when it comes down to bids and tendering and vetting.

“Members have very little input, it’s down to services, ” said Ms Thomas.

In March, when Dawnus went bust, the 360-pupil English-medium primary school in Welshpool was partly built.

It had been expected that the staff and pupils would move there for the new school year in September but the delay will take at least a year as PCC goes through a new tendering process.

The last two projects, a Welsh medium school in Welshpool and a new building for an all-through primary and secondary school in Machynlleth, are still at the planning stage.

Jistcourt were supposed to build 26 flats in the middle of Newtown at the former bowling green.

They went into administration at the end of June.

The Bowling Green Scheme in Newtown was much trumpeted by PCC as the first social housing scheme they would build in more than 30 years.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service


 

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