Leader’s physio handed a second council contract
ASECOND council contract worth up to £21,000 was awarded to the leader’s physiotherapist outside the normal tendering rules, it has been revealed.
Earlier this month the Express reported that a contract worth up to £115,000 was issued to Core Fit, a company run by councillor Michael Jones’s physiotherapist Amanda Morris, before the tendering process was complete.
The Express has now seen documents showing a contract worth up to £21,000 issued to Core Fit – this time to run mental health sessions in schools – again with the tender process waived.
Core Fit was involved in a pilot scheme in 2014 to provide fitness classes at primary schools and community centres across Cheshire East.
The council put out to tender a year-long contract worth up to £115,000 to continue the scheme, attracting a number of bidders for the deal.
But the contract was awarded to Core Fit in March without the tender process being completed.
In April the tender process was officially waived by three senior council officers, stating that more time was needed to carry out a full evaluation of the pilot scheme.
This sparked concerns among councillors and residents about why the decision had been taken and there have been calls for an independent investigation into the matter.
Council leader Michael Jones admitted that he introduced Amanda Morris to council officers but said it was not his decision to cancel the procurement process.
A second contract worth up to £21,000 was issued to Core Fit a month after the £115,000, with another form to waive the normal procurement rules was signed off by senior officers, again as an extension of a pilot scheme.
It states that the contract was to provide: “Mind health training integrated within the Corefit programme. Additional 15 minute sessions over a five week period delivered in schools already participating in Corefit.”
It goes on: “Turning mental health into mind health is a radical first step towards integrating physical and mental wellbeing.”
The form also states that the value of the original contract issued to Core Fit in 2014 was £20,800.
Coun Nick Mannion, Labour councillor for Macclesfield West and Ivy ward, said: “There are more questions to be answered around why the tender process was waived again. There’s a lot of smoke around all of this and we’re raising it through the council’s audit and governance.”
Coun Jones was not available after details of the second contract were revealed. Amanda Morris could not be contacted for comment.
●● Cheshire East Council leader Michael Jones