Tewkesbury Town Council in row over 'unethical contract'
FEARS of “unethical” behaviour were discussed during a stormy council meeting after a repairs contract was awarded to the son of a committee chairman.
The special meeting of Tewkesbury Town Council broke up with councillors agreeing to redraw methods for awarding contracts.
But some councillors and constituents continued the arguments on the pavement outside the town hall.
The extraordinary meeting of the full council had been called after disquiet over the way the council’s buildings committee had given a contract for repairs to the gable wall of the Watson Hall in Barton Street to a company run by the son of the committee chairman, Councillor Chuck Pavey.
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Neither Mr Pavey, nor his son Mark, attended the meeting.
Councillor Ken Powell described the decision as being simply about “saving money for the council.”
He said the committee had asked for three quotes for the work to shore up the hall’s wall and Mr Pavey’s son’s was cheapest.
“One was £14,000, one was £9,600, the last was £8,600,” he said. “There was a thousand pounds difference between one and five thousand between the other.”
But Councillor John Badham disagreed, saying: “The meeting was railroaded into a decision. It was fundamentally unethical.”
Tewkesbury Town Mayor, Christine Danter, chairing the meeting, emphasised that the work needed to be done with some urgency.
Some councillors said the work should be put out to tender again. Others pointed out that because the bids already received had been publicised, that it would not be right to re-offer the work.
To make matters more complicated, Councillor Peter Aldridge had to step out of the meeting because one of the bids was put forward by a family member.
Mark Calway, who works for Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson, spoke from the public gallery during the meeting.
He told the councillors: “You have said you don’t have a tender process. You must have one. You must have a process and then put the contracts out to tender.”
Eventually, a proposal was made to accept the second cheapest quote of the three originally considered by the building committee, at £9,600.
There were six votes in favour, four votes against and three abstentions.
After the meeting, resident Patricia Hanford, of Gloucester Road, said: “We need a new system for contracts. It shouldn’t be in sealed envelopes, bidders should come in to the meetings with their quotes and be discussed there and then without councillors knowing what the bids are before. The decision and the prices should then be published.”
Five councillors volunteered to form a sub-committee to draw up a new tendering process, which will be put to the next full council meeting.