Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Connaught goes into Administration

The bad news for the staff and customers of Connaught was heavily trailed this morning and we now know that they have gone into administration (more here). This in, obviously, a very worrying time for both the 10,000 Connaught staff both here in Norwich and around the country and also for the tens of thousands who depend on their services.

There has been much concern expressed at Labour's handling of the Connaught contract, including from both City MPs Chloe Smith and Simon Wright, and also by the Conservative Group on the City Council. Questions were raised about the situation surrounding the Morrison bid, the "teething problems" at the beginning of the service and now the financial perils of the company. All along Labour have told us - don't worry, it'll be fine. There are, apparently, plans in place to ensure services do not suffer. I am not on the Council so I know no more than anybody else but Labour are going to have to make those plans public pretty soon.

This whole situation seems to have been handled very badly indeed. Was this contract ever robust enough? Labour have some big questions to ask - but residents on the doorstep tonight were rightly very concerned and many believed this incident was symptomatic of the way Labour have run City Hall.

No wonder Labour are desperate to turn a City by-election into a County election or General Election - because they are afraid of their own record in office.


Norwich Citizen said...

One question I would like to ask is why wasn't there a serious consideration in bringing the services back in house? The Greens were the only party proposing such an option.

I know that since the 1980s local and national governments have been sub contracting and privatising utility contracts and other public services under the auspices of the neo-liberal market economics which supposedly produces the most efficient service. Would you consider the case of Connaught one of market failure?

I personally don't care who owns the service as long as it is cost effective and delivers value for money for the tax payer. In this incidence, this has not been the case with Connaught going into Administration.

I would like to see how City Hall will make plans to ensure services do not suffer because I suspect they will regardless of what contigency plans are in place. Just look at how services have been suffering since Connaught because the service provider.

I have spoken to a Labour party volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons says Labour has stopped caring whether they remain the dominant party because they can then blame any subsequent developments on the Greens. I not sure how much mileage there is in this - but with these latest developments it does make you wonder.

pauline.walton@tesco.net said...

Leaseholders have been expressing concern about the management of this procurement project since it began in March last year.

We believe there Norwich Council has a case to answer for its failure to notice the state of Connaught's accounts in November last year, and adverse reporting by fund manager Tim Steer in mid-December. We believe that the Council was reckless in its appointment of Connaught on 10 February 2010, given the incredibly low bid price (30% lower than anyone else). We wonder whether its "due diligence exercise" really proved that this bid was affordable.

Morrison tried to warn this council immediately it knew it had lost the bid, but the Council pressed on.

Citizens of Norwich deserve better than this.

Now, with Connaught's social housing operation in administration, I presume we can look forward to another interim contract while the council has to go through a major expensive procurement process all over again.

Surely this warrants a public inquiry?

Pauline Walton
Chair, Norwich Leaseholders' Association