Tories call for an­swers in physio con­tract row

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - KAREN BRITTON

CON­SER­VAT I V E coun­cil­lors have joined calls for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into why a coun­cil con­tract worth up to £115,000 was handed to Cheshire East Coun­cil leader Michael Jones’ phys­io­ther­a­pist.

Con­cerns have been raised around the de­ci­sion to award the con­tract to run fit­ness ses­sions in schools and com­mu­nity cen­tres to Core Fit, a com­pany run by Amanda Mor­ris, out­side of the coun­cil’s nor­mal rules.

The com­pany had been in­volved in a pi­lot scheme to pro­vide fit­ness classes at pri­mary schools and com­mu­nity cen­tres across Cheshire East.

And in Fe­bru­ary a year long con­tract was put out to ten­der, at­tract­ing a num­ber of bid­ders com­pet­ing for the lu­cra­tive deal.

But it was awarded to Core Fit in March, with­out the ten­der process be­ing com­pleted. And in April 2015 the ten­der process was of­fi­cially waived by three coun­cil of­fi­cers, stat­ing that more time was needed to carry out a full eval­u­a­tion of the pi­lot scheme. Coun Jones last week told the Ex­press that he in­tro­duced Ms Mor­ris to the coun­cil in an at­tempt to tackle poor body im­age among chil­dren ahead of the pi­lot scheme, but that he was not in­volved in the pro­cure­ment process. He said that Core Fit had pro­vided a good ser­vice and that there was no wrong do­ing.

Now Tory coun­cil­lors on the Con­ser­va­tive-con­trolled coun­cil have joined the calls for an in­de­pen­dent ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Coun Howard Mur­ray, who rep­re­sents Poyn­ton East and Pott Shrigley, said: “There is a se­ri­ous cause for con­cern that war­rants an ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“The mat­ter is dam­ag­ing to Coun Jones, the coun­cil and the Con­ser­va­tive party. It needs the bright light of an ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion shin­ing upon it.”

Coun Jones was un­avail­able to com­ment on his Con­ser­va­tive col­leagues com­ments.

Fel­low Con­ser­va­tive Coun Les­ley Smetham, said: “If there are any sus­pi­cions that things have been done in­cor­rectly then there should be an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

When con­tacted by the Ex­press, MP David Rut­ley de­clined to com­ment.

Last week a Cheshire East Coun­cil spokesman said: “If a pro­cure­ment process is un­der­taken, and no bid is suit­able to the spec­i­fi­ca­tion re­quired, then no con­tract is awarded.”

Cheshire East has de­clined to com­ment fur­ther on why the con­tract was given to Core Fit and whether there will be an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Amanda Mor­ris was not avail­able for com­ment.

●● Coun­cil leader Michael Jones

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