West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is seething with anger at the latest scandal involving One Connect Limited’s £600,000 payments to former Chief Executive, David McElhinney for his part-time job.
A report containing the revelation is to be considered by Lancashire County Council’s Audit and Governance Committee at their meeting on Monday 30 September 2013 at County Hall.
This latest bombshell follows on from Lancashire County Council rescinding the Fleet Service contract signed off by the previous Conservative administration, the suspension of the County Council Chief Executive and the resignation of the One Connect Limited Chief Executive.
The report makes clear that Lancashire County Council understood Mr McElhinney’s salary was to be £40,000 per year for his 2.5 days per week role as Chief Executive. Yet over the two years from 16th May 2011 to 31st March 2013 he received over £600,000 in remuneration.
Previously, Rosie has spoken out over the lack of openness and transparency surrounding One Connect Limited’s contractual agreements with local authorities and questioned how Lancashire council taxpayers knew they were getting value for money when One Connect Limited operated in secrecy. The details of the contract between Lancashire County Council and BT, and their contract with West Lancashire Borough Council has been kept a closely guarded secret under the guise of ‘commercial confidentiality’.
Speaking following this latest information, MP Rosie said:
“The latest revelation about One Connect Limited’s former Chief Executive is beyond words. I am absolutely incensed at the eye-watering sums of money he appears to have been paid. What makes it worse is he only worked part-time. All this money for two and a half days per week, with public money and little accountability!
“I wonder if One Connect Limited’s new logo shouldn’t be a picture of Dick Turpin. Highway robbery is the only way to describe this news.
“The recent events surrounding One Connect Limited serve as a stark warning to any and every local authority looking to enter into this type of arrangement.
“For the past two years I have called for greater openness and transparency around One Connect Limited’s operations. It is after all funded by the council taxpayers of Lancashire. They deserve to know how their money is being spent; and if they are getting value for their hard earned money.
“Throughout this time I was told by Conservative-run West Lancashire Borough Council that it was a good deal as it saves £500,000 a year. It doesn’t look like a good deal when you compare it to the Chief Executive’s package and we don’t know what profit BT is making.
“Former County Council leader Geoff Driver, arrogantly dismissed any questions I ever raised about One Connect Limited claiming I didn’t understand the deal. How could I, the details were kept secret.
“I have said repeatedly that Geoff Driver, as the former council leader who signed the deal has serious questions to answer. In light of this new information he has even more questions to answer now.
“It strikes me as a peculiar business arrangement where an employee doesn’t take any salary for over two years and then is paid in two large payments one month apart.”
“Geoff Driver had a duty to the people of Lancashire. This latest information would suggest that Cllr Driver ashamedly, abjectly failed in his duty.
“I think it is now time for the books to be opened on One Connect Limited and let’s see what mess the previous administration left for the people of Lancashire.
“I am worried that the only people who will pay any price for the failings of One Connect Limited are the residents of Lancashire; and they will have paid twice. They deserve better.”