Sunday, September 03, 2006

Liverpool Labour ask are contracts legal??



Labour councillor Jane Corbett has highlighted serious concerns over the whether contracts awarded by the City Council are legal. All contracts over £100,000 should be put out to tender to ensure Council tax payers are getting value for money. However, Enterprise-Liverpool, which the Council has a 20% stake in, were awarded a £500,000 contracts for street-lighting without it going out to formal tender.
Concern was also raised over a £1.5 MILLION deal to refurbish two council One Stop Shops with the contractors Mansell. Rather than the usual process of going out to formal tender for contracts over £100,000 both deal were negotiated with the contractors instead.
CllrCorbett - concern over tenders
Cllr Corbett - concern over tenders

Neighbourhood Renewal Funding (NRF) is a huge amount of money given by the Government to help regenerate deprived communities. Liverpool has been awarded £150 MILLION by the Labour Government between 2001 and 2006. However, the Lib Dem Council has consistently used the funding to prop up the main council services. Both the street lighting contract and the One Stop Shop contract were funded through NRF money.

Cllr Corbett represents Everton ward - one of the key wards that should benefit from NRF funding - and has raised the issue with full council asking for this to be urgently addressed. However, the Liberal Democrats voted against the motion. Cllr Corbett said, "I am concerned by the way the Liberal Democrats have reacted. Why did they refuse to vote against my amendment?

"The people of Liverpool, Councillors and the Government need to know that those in senior positions in Liverpool can be trusted with large Government grants. NRF is given by the Labour Government to tackle poverty and inequality in our most deprived communities. Communities deserve to be treated better than this."

An internal Council audit stated "It is not clear to us whether the award of additional work is legal". The audit also revealed that at least £50,500 from the £1.5 MILLION contract for One Stop Shops was used to pay Council Officers' salaries, simply to prevent it going unspent. Whilst this is legitimate, the process has been called into question. Cllr Corbett questioned, "Why is there no hard recorded evidence of how much time they have actually spent working on the contract?. Instead, the officers suggest that the sue of the NRF money in this way was not based on any actual time records"

Fellow Labour Councillor and spokesperson on regeneration, Steve Munby, said, "We've said time and again that some NRF money is not being spent in the way it is meant to. I am sure people would agree that it should be going into the poorest areas where it was intended to.

Labour have also branded the use of £1.4 MILLION of Neighbourhood Renewal Funding towards a Capital of Culture Shop a "disgrace". The Government has already given the Council £5 MILLION for building contracts linked to Capital of Culture. However, NRF money intended for use in the most deprived areas is instead being channelled by the Lib Dem council towards a city centre shop.

Cllr Corbett said, "I am appalled by what they are doing. The council has shown that this shop will lose £524,000 per year. NRF money is intended to reduce poverty and inequality and the council is well aware of this, yet the Lib Dems have decided to use it to help fund a city centre shop. It is a disgrace"


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