West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is demanding that West Lancashire Borough Council starts to come clean over its relationship with One Connect Limited, which so far has left staff in limbo and councillors in the dark.
On Monday 18 June, West Lancashire Borough Council staff seconded to One Connect Limited were due to move offices from 52 Derby Street to One Connect Limited’s Lancashire Place offices over the road. It is understood that due to a contractual dispute on the planned day of the move staff were told to stay put, even though they had all their boxes packed and they’d already had a leaving party. As yet the situation has not been resolved and staff are still no clearer about which offices they will be working from.
MP Rosie is demanding that it is time for the Council to come clean and shed some light on what is happening with the staff and the services it pays One Connect Limited to provide. The West Lancashire MP said:
“I think it is time West Lancashire Borough Council comes clean about what is happening with One Connect Limited. We’ve got staff who had their boxes packed who were then refused entry to Lancashire Place and sent back to the Council. There is no information forthcoming about how this situation was allowed to happen or how and when it will be resolved or how much it is all costing? This reminds me of a Laurel and Hardy farce.
“Sadly this is happening in secret with West Lancashire council taxpayers’ money. We need explanations, transparency and accountability, now.
The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the Council is to consider an annual review report from One Connect Limited at its meeting 12th July 2012, Rosie has serious reservations about the information being provided to democratically elected Councillors. MP Rosie said:
“I’ve read the report to be considered by the Council’s Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It is generic and vague in terms of the information it provides and is far from sufficient for proper scrutiny by Councillors and there is no mention anywhere of the issues over the relocation of the seconded staff or any contractual disputes.
“It is about time openness and transparency was brought to the Borough Council’s dealings with One Connect Limited. How can councillors be asked to effectively scrutinise the service when they haven’t been provided with information about the contract and when they don’t have access to all the information, including why staff have been stopped from moving offices.
“How can the council taxpayers of West Lancashire be confident they are being well served and getting value for money when the people they elected to represent them aren’t allowed to know everything that is going on.
“All this mystery and the information blackout is simply not acceptable. Everyone involved needs to remember, that this is public money being used to provide public services. It is time to come clean. One Connect and the Council’s joint managing directors are treating West Lancashire Councillors and its residents with contempt when they think they can get away with this behaviour”