Report highly critical of Cheshire East contract awards

Report highly critical of Cheshire East contract awards

A report which looked into how a series of contracts were awarded by Cheshire East Council has been highly critical in its findings.

The report covers a period where Cheshire East Council was under the control of the Conservative Party, led by Cllr Michael Jones.

A series of contracts totalling £156,000 were given to a company called Core Fit Ltd which was owned by Amanda Morris.

Concerns were first raised in 2015 by whistleblowers about the decision to give the contracts to Core Fit Ltd and if the company had received “preferential treatment”.

There were also claims of a bullying culture within the council at the time, these concerns were also raised with two local MPs and the Mayor.

At the time the contracts were awarded, the owner of Core Fit Ltd, Amanda Morris was also the personal physiotherapist of then Cheshire East Council Leader, Michael Jones.

The review also found that Core Fit Ltd did not have the relevant insurance to operate and it also had not undertaken the required DBS checks of some of its staff.

The report found that:

……..the situation which arose was not due to an absence of control, but rather as a result of a widespread failure to follow due process and the Council’s Constitution.

The findings also concluded:

The series of events described above demonstrate a failure of control in relation to the application of Contract Procedure Rules brought about in the main from management override of those controls.

At the time the contracts were given, Mr Jones admitted he introduced Core Fit Ltd and Amanda Morris to Cheshire East Council but stated he had no vested interest in the procurement process.

Mr Jones resigned as the leader of Cheshire East Council in December 2015 and has always denied any wrongdoing.

Cheshire Police began an investigation in 2015 and in June 2018 they handed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for consideration.

The CPS decided in June 2020 to end the fraud investigation citing insufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

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