Poll

Should the council spend an extra £300,000 on adding microchips to bins? (See full story on this page)

Free Press Commercial Print Stair Estates

December at least before we find how the Council lost £3.2m of OUR money

INVESTIGATIONS into how £3.2m of taxpayers' money was lost on a disastrous roads contract continue, councillors have been told, but it's likely to be December before answers are delivered. The issue was to have been discussed last week at a full meeting of the council – the first since lockdown – but that over-ran and instead the DG First debacle was looked at yesterday. A Press release from the Labour group on the council issued this morning said Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader Elaine Murray and Depute Leader Rob Davidson “vowed that the council would get the bottom of the failed trunk road contract.” Councillor Ian Caruthers of the Conservative group, vowed: "This is just the beginning of this probe. I am determined no stone will be left unturned." The council created a trading arm called DG First which became a sub-contractor for the roads firm Amey between 2002 and 2013, handling trunk-road maintenance across the south-west. Official papers show DG First initially generated an operating surplus. But a later £29m deal with Scotland TranServ – covering 2013 to 2018 – instead returned a deficit of £3.25m. Police have been informed of the progress of the council investigation and prosecutions could follow, says a report from officials. Yesterday's meeting heard the council's original inquiry “still has a number of lines of inquiry which are being investigated in line with the council's anti-fraud and anti-corruption policy.” Labour said: “Today's full meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council voted to agree a raft of additional proposals from the Council's Labour/SNP Administration. The proposals included: • That a review of the Council's financial procedures and procurement standing orders will be carried out by the finance, procurement and transformation committee and report to full council by December 2020. • That a root and branch review is carried out in to the roads service to ensure efficiency and best use of resources and report by December 2020." Elaine Murray, leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: “There is rightly anger from the public that a contract entered in to by the council which was supposed to help the council's financial position in the beginning of austerity and protect local jobs at a time of increased centralisation has failed to deliver on one of those aims. “Our administration is clear that we will get to the bottom of this failed contract. The administration proposals that have been agreed today will ensure that our council acts swiftly on the initial findings considered by full council and start to repair the trust in the council. “Residents and businesses across Dumfries and Galloway rightly expect our council to work efficiently and transparently to fix potholes and maintain roads and ensure that our procurement processes are followed and support all businesses to secure contracts with the council. The reviews we have committed to will ensure that confidence and trust is restored in these services.” Depute Leader, Councillor Rob Davidson said: “The public rightly expects councillors to get to the bottom of this failed contract, and that is exactly what our administration vows to do. “Every year our Council fixes thousands of miles of roads and procures hundreds of millions of pounds worth of goods and services from voluntary and private enterprises which emphasises the need to get to the bottom on this failure and ensure it never happens again. “There is now a series of reviews and investigations that will be carried out over the coming months which will restore trust and confidence in the Council and its services. “Although we have agreed to further investigate particular areas we do not rule out seeking external expertise or to use the option of a fully independent, external review into any issue that arises from this failed contract.” Papers prepared by officials say the now defunct DG First had a culture of "standing alone" from the council and says there was a lack of oversight of their activities. Mr Carrurthers said he was disappointed a bid to have an independent, external probe was outvoted yesterday. He fears the loss to taxpayers could exceed £3.2m and could top £4.8m. Figures are still being worked on and the council is still trying to see if it can claw any money back. "There was a lack of oversight here. Were we misled? We need to find that out and if we were misled, then by whom?" He accepted that changes to procedures had been made but that did not mean walking away from the issues raised.

<< back Published: 01 Jul 2020, 09:41

COVID-19 News

How financial support is helping firms adapt

read more >>

Financial support helping companies adapt and innovate

read more >>

Government action at home and abroad helps cope with Covid

read more >>

Protecting jobs and supporting business

read more >>

LOOKING FOR HELP DURING CORONAVIRUS?

read more >>

The news you can trust

read more >>

Extraordinary kindness across our communities

read more >>


 

LOCAL TIDES

Click for your Local Tide Details