Earlier in the year Croydon Green Party looked into this and put in a FOI request. We held back on sending this press release to the media because.... the local papers were also read Private Eye! However, we have now received from the Council ten lengthy documents. We are now wading through them.
PRESS RELEASE immediate
CROYDON COUNCIL IMPLICATED IN ALLEGED TAXI SERVICE CONTRACT CORRUPTION
The Croydon Green Party has become aware of a worrying story involving the apparent misallocation of millions in Croydon taxpayers’ money.
A recent Private Eye article has revealed that a heavily indebted, failing minicab company without the resources to provide the requisite services has been suspiciously awarded a £6.5 million contract by Croydon Council whilst cheaper, better qualified alternative tenders were overlooked.
Five years earlier, Private Eye first reported on the questionable award of a £20 million special needs schools transport contract by Southwark Council to Olympic South, a minicab firm, replacing the existing contractor without adhering to proper tender processes and then allowing the company to begin operations without the legally required licences. The subsequent council inquiry was seriously hampered by the theft of a computer containing correspondence and emails relating to the award of the contract.
Olympic South have now been awarded another similar lucrative contract by Croydon Council, following advice from Michael Lawrence, former transport boss at Sutton Council. Private Eye notes that “senior Croydon council sources” claim better qualified and cheaper tenders were ignored and the majority of routes awarded to Olympic.
Olympic should have been excluded from consideration as the company did not have the resources to fulfil a major contract. As was the case in Southwark, Olympic were chosen in spite of the fact that the firm lacked the necessary number of vehicles and qualified staff to provide the services required and in spite of not possessing the requisite licences. Moreover, the firm recorded a loss of £565,508 last year and its balance sheet shows a deficit of almost a £1 million.
The final element to this malodorous cocktail is that Michael Lawrence, the official primarily responsible for the suspicious decision, has since left his job at Sutton council and waited a full day (30.09.09 – 01.12.10) to take up a new position as “Director of Services” at – unbelievably – Olympic South.
Commenting on these findings Shasha khan said:
“On the surface this whole episode has all the trappings of a banana republic. Upholding standards in public life is crucial to a healthy local democracy. Greater transparency in the awarding of contracts is vital. The Green Party has put in a Freedom of Information Act request, asking to see papers relating to the decision making process. If somehow undue favour has been given to Olympic South, whilst better qualified and cheaper tenders were ignored, then there will need to be a full enquiry.”
Tags croydon, greenparty