Care contract under review

A local authority in South Wales at the centre of a row over a
care contract involving the wife of a former social services
chairperson, is to look again at the contract.

Blaenau Gwent council is to review its actions in light of a
critical report on behalf of the Audit Commission by an external

The 25-year contract was for the care and resettlement of
vulnerable people in the community. The auditor’s public interest
report details serious concerns over the handling of the
provisional award of the contract.

It says that there were “no cogent reasons to justify the
decision” to offer a conditional contract to Christine Scully, wife
of Councillor Brian Scully. The tender received from Mrs Scully was
potentially £3.15 million more expensive than the lowest

The report notes a number of concerns, including the failure of
the local authority to demonstrate best value. It says the accepted
tender was 84 per cent higher than the lowest tender received and
adds that the arrangements that had been put in place by the
council fell short of the standards expected of public bodies.

A statement from the auditor adds: “In addition, the council has
exposed itself to the potential criticism of seeking to give
significant and improper financial benefit to a member of the
council, who was the former chairman of the social services
committee, by awarding this contract to his wife in circumstances
that are not easily justifiable”.

The council have issued a statement in which they say that
members “acted in good faith in awarding the contract based on the
best quality of care package on offer”.

Councillors have also criticised the auditor for not allowing
them to respond to the report before it was made public. Councillor
Scully did not attend meetings where the contract was

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