In 2015 Cheshire East Labour raised concerns over contracts awarded to Core Fit Ltd. A close friend of then Conservative leader Michael Jones ran Core Fit Ltd. at the time. On 20 January the council finally published a report into the contracts awarded to Core Fit Ltd. The report sets out the details of what happened. The review identified that ‘management override of control’ played a significant part.
Cheshire East Council awarded contracts totalling well over £100,000 to provide a fitness programme in schools and community hubs. In 2014 the council set up a £20,000 pilot scheme run by Core Fit. The council then added an extra £9,000 in February 2015. The council then carried out a procurement exercise for a larger contract. However when Core Fit came 5th out of 13, the council scrapped it’s procurement exercise and ‘extended’ the pilot scheme. In March 2015 the council awarded a new contract to Core Fit valued at £115,000 covering schools and community hubs for adults. The council made an up front payment of £30,000 on 29 April 2015. In August 2015 concerns were raised about an absence of DBS checks, parental consent and escalation routes for any issues identified during the sessions. In September 2015 the council cancelled the contracts .
The report concluded that the problems arose because of a ‘widespread failure to follow due process’ under the previous Conservative administration. It also said ‘the current culture actively discourages deviation from due process through clear behavioural values’. The report gives assurances that controls are now adequate to address the risks identified under the new Labour/Independent administration.
“The former Leader of the council has left, but the former Cabinet Members for Children’s Services & Adults Services need to explain how contractors were operating in schools without insurance and were dealing with children and vulnerable adults without DBS checks.”Councillor Alift Harewood MBE, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy
“It is incredible that Cabinet Members did not know what was going on in their portfolios and that even when a waiver notice was prepared but not signed, the Cabinet Member for procurement was not aware of what was going on. There is a staggering level of ‘management override of controls’. Sadly the Crown Prosecution Service has found that here isn’t a realistic prospect of a conviction against any individual, but there should be public accountability for those who allowed these events and the culture to go unchecked.’’Councillor Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South
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