Tuesday, May 23, 2017

News: Former Rotherham Council boss arrested - reports

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News broke on Merseyside yesterday that Ged Fitzgerald was reportedly one of four men arrested as part of an inquiry into financial irregularities at Lancashire County Council centred on the authority's joint venture with British Telecom (BT).

Fitzgerald, currently the chief executive of Liverpool Council, held the same position at Rotherham Council between 2001 and 2003.

The Liverpool Echo reports that local police had confirmed that four men had been arrested, not over fraud, but conspiring to pervert the course of justice and intimidating witnesses.

A protracted investigation has been ongoing at Lancashire Police into the Lancashire Council's former "One Connect Ltd" partnership with BT.

Fitzgerald was chief executive of Lancashire Council when the joint venture with BT was set up, similar to the one between Liverpool council and BT, Liverpool Direct (LDL). He was also in place at Rotherham Council when it too unveiled plans for a £150m partnership with BT aimed at revolutionising operations and making efficiency savings council wide.

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Formally known as RBT (Connect) Limited, the partnership was launched in 2003 and took over responsibility for five areas of work on behalf of the Council – ICT, revenues and benefits, HR and payroll, procurement, and Rotherham Connect (a telephone contact centre). The aim was for BT to invest £30m in world-class, leading-edge technology, new business practices, training and better ways of working and for the Council to benefit from £50m of efficiency savings.

Set to last 12 years, the contract was ended early in 2012. The partnerships in Liverpool and Lancashire were also ended early.

A police investigation followed Lancashire Council reporting on payments in excess of £600,000 to the partnership's former chief executive, a lack of governance and audit functions, a shortfall of £6.6m in the achievement of procurement savings and mark ups added to tenders by BT.

In Rotherham, terms and conditions were changed in 2008 and at the time of ending its contract in 2012, Rotherham Council said that there would be no "cost" to the Council of ending the RBT Partnership and that the Council made no payment for getting out of the contract early. The Council did however pay BT for the investments it made in services, financial investments that RBT had been recovering through the charges for the delivery of services and payments that ended sooner than originally envisaged.



Images: Invest in Liverpool


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