Doncaster playground plan delayed after investigation

Bosses at a Doncaster town council have delayed plans for a major children's playground project - after questions were asked over contract tendering arrangements.

Tuesday, 13th February 2018, 7:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th February 2018, 7:30 am
Chris Geeson has become interim clerk at Thorne Moorends Town Council

Bosses at a Doncaster town council have put the brakes on plans for a major children's playground project - after questions were asked over contract tendering arrangements.

Thorne Moorends Town Council wants to spend around £165,000 on a Moorends Miners Welfare Ground play area improvement project, after receiving cash from the sale of land in the town.

But the scheme has led to a row between the authority's Labour group and the opposition Community Group councillors, which led to complaints over the tendering for the play area contract from the community group, which said it was not given enough time to look at the options.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Holiday arrangements for the then acting clerk meant that some councillors did not receive printed documents until the day of the meeting, although emails had been sent out.

It led to the council receiving a solicitors letter alleging the process had been illegal.

Now the whole row has been examined by the Yorkshire Local Councils Association, which has reported that no laws were broken after carrying out an independent investigation.

But the association did report that it did not understand the speed at which the decision on the tender was made.

Now the council has put the project on hold until it receives a value for money report on the scheme, before the final contract is awarded, a spokesman said. No such report was compiled during the original process of awarding contracts.

The council had no full time clerk at the time the decision was made, but now has an interim clerk, Chris Geeson, who suggested calling in the TLCA to resolve the row.

The YLCA report concluded: "The council had a clear intention to develop the play area. It delegated a broad remit to the former clerk to take the project forward and it appears that all actions taken in this regard were undertaken in good faith, even though they may not have been to the liking of all the councillors.

"A more robust tendering process would have helped the comparative aspects of the task of deciding which company the tender would be let to.

"YLCA has not yet developed an understanding of why it was necessary to strive for a decision about the play area on July 11 and it is our view that it would have been preferable considering the technical issues that caused the information to be distributed late in the day, to have deferred the issue for a period of time to enable the council to study the information received, apply an improved due diligence exercise and make informed comparisons."

"We cannot see any point in the exercise where the council has contravened legisation; the issues lie with the implementation and decision making process. The council needs to learn from this and now move forward to provide the users of the welfare ground with the play area as intended."

No comment was available from mayor of Thorne Susan Durant.