The incredible £20,000 report into Dave Green/Colas that Wirral Council wouldn’t release on “data protection” grounds
The Colas contract included maintenance of Wirral’s roads
Three and a half months ago I submitted a FOI request for a dozen documents held by Wirral Council that were given to Richard Penn before writing his thirty-nine page report into Dave Green’s involvement in the Colas contract. Over three months later they have replied, providing a copy of the Council’s conflict of interest policy and conflict of interest procedure.
What’s interesting is what’s in the list of ten documents requested that they refused to supply on “data protection” grounds. One of these was a report that cost Wirral Council £20,000 from their then auditor the Audit Commission. It was a twenty-six page Public Interest Disclosure Act report into what happened during the tendering of the multi-million pound Colas contract. Despite Wirral Council’s reluctance to release it in response to my FOI request it was in fact published on their website as it was considered during an Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting that met in September 2010.
Here are some quotes from that report by the Audit Commission that obviously Wirral Council didn’t want to release in response to my Freedom of Information Act request:
“However, the issues raised were genuine concerns and our review did highlight some weaknesses including a lack of clarity about separation of duties, inadequate records and documentation and the need to clarify corporate systems for raising and recording potential conflicts of interest. There were also examples of a lack of proper consideration of or disregard of procedures, for example meeting with potential tenderers during the period between the post tender qualifying stage and tender
submission.” (page 7)
“These weaknesses potentially left the Council and individuals open to external challenge. If there had been external challenge to the contract by an aggrieved bidder, the remedy could have led to substantial damages being paid and loss of reputation by the Council. Going forward, a new EU Remedies Directive applicable to new procurements advertised after 20 December 2009 means that aggrieved bidders now have tougher remedies against public authorities that break procurement rules. The High Court will be able to set aside signed contracts resulting in delays to services, as well as significant and costly litigation and further procurement costs (see Appendix 3 for further detail).” (page 7)
“As noted at paragraph 1, the PIDA concerns were raised with us following an internal PIDA investigation. The Council needs to continually consider the adequacy of its Whistleblowing procedures and how well they are complied with to ensure that individuals have confidence that issues will be fully investigated and lessons learnt.” (page 7)
“Concerns were raised with us that a meeting was held by the Director of Tech