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Council facing review of policy after investigation
A parish council has accused its big brother authority of unfairly “singling it out” after it was told to review its tendering policy.
Long Preston Parish Council is at the centre of a storm which has been raging for several months over the employment of its chairman, Nick Thwaite, to cut the village grass and in paying him about £7,000 a year over the last four years.
Now Craven District Council has stepped into the fray by holding a review committee investigation which has questioned the appropriateness of employing the chairman in that role.
Although Craven stresses that there was no suggestion the contractual process had been flawed, it has ordered the parish council to “mentor” Councillor Thwaite and to review its policies and procedures in relation to awarding contracts.
In its review committee decision, Craven says Coun Thwaite could not be considered to have brought the office of chairman or the authority into disrepute but it was concerned that he might reasonably be seen as compromising the office of parish council chairman.
But the rebuke has sparked a sharp response from the parish council.
In a statement a spokesman said: “The council is dismayed at the recommendations of the committee in asking the council to review its contracts and tendering policy with the inference that members of the council should be excluded from tendering or being awarded contracts by the council.
“It is the opinion of this council that such a direction is not good procurement practice, would be illegal at a European level of tendering and is illogical as the council’s own declaration of interests asks members to declare such contracts.
“The fact that the council was tried and condemned on policies - put in place by democratically elected members - without knowing that such a review was being undertaken is contrary to the principles of justice.
“Finally, the council believes that Long Preston should not have been singled out in this respect and considers that the sub-committee should have recommended that all other parish council’s in Craven undertake the same review.”
A spokesman for Craven council said the authority did not wish to comment because the issue was based on confidential information.