Image: GETTY

From Contrary:

In The Only Game in Town 2 : The Cover Up, we are given a brief review of the investigation presented in the first documentary from 2017/18 – in 2005 a contract was signed by North Ayrshire Council (NAC) for a PPP/PFI deal to build 4 schools. The council is now paying £1million a MONTH to pay this debt, and will be until about 2038. Expensive schools. There were concerns amongst councillors about lack of transparency and procedures, so a police investigation was launched in 2006 and they ‘found no criminality’. The first documentary found enough evidence to place doubt on the legality of the bidding procedure (one of the competitors was obviously a shell company just invented at the time and lied on its application) – so no competition was really there – and strong doubt that any police investigation had taken place.

This documentary (only about 35 mins): NAC councillors put forward a motion, to have a new police investigation, on 28 Feb 2018. The Chief Executive Elma Murray and Councillor Joe Cullinane appear to collude (video record) to avoid an investigation but the motion is passed. Elma requests an investigation but police Scotland refuses.

Campbell Martin (the reporter investigating here) puts in a FOI to police Scotland for documents relating to the 2006 inquiry – there is a whole heap of lies and wriggling out of things here, so something is not right. Eventually he received 4 out of 11 documents, that they said didn’t exist, but they were so heavily redacted they were useless. (You really have to wonder what it said to need such redaction – this is a public procurement case, not an assassination!)

So, how the PPP/PFI deal worked in 2005: there was a NAC Project Board, but it was made up of only 3 elected councillors, the rest were unelected council officials and civil servants from the Scottish executive – the Financial Partnership Unit (FPU). It appears that the main body of the council had little control or say over the PPP deal they were meant to sign off on – one councillor David O’Neill asked to see the contract, and a council official Jim Tulips (I am not sure about the name here) said it was for the eyes of the project board only – that is, they had no idea what they were signing up to or how much it would cost! The initial cost was £80m+, after the contract was signed it was £107m+, it is now estimated at £395m+ total. Mostly all going to large tax-avoiding companies, and a German bank.

Turns out it was the FPU from the Scottish executive that was running things. An FOI revealed an email from 25 July 2005 from Jane Broderick (a reasearcher in the civil service) to Sandy Rosie (who was the senior official in charge of the FPU) asking about a meeting, re NAC PPP deal, between a civil servant – Leslie Evans – and the Chief Executive of NAC. Rosie’s reply was that the FPU was ‘handling business in this case’ and ‘the less said to the council the better!’.

I haven’t had time to look at what Sandy Rosie is doing now – he was obviously high up then, and questioned in committee meetings, along with Tom McCabe MSP, in 2005. There is a definite lack of info online regarding PPP deals. I am not sure of Leslie Evans position at the time, but she was obviously fairly high up as she was going around checking on councils in 2003 (isle of Bute minutes of a meeting, which I’ve lost the link to). The main thing here is that if she can be linked to unethical practices – misleading councils, councillors and the tax-payer – costing us millions in the process, as well as keeping silent on illegal practices (or part of them? No evidence of that, so far) – then she should not be in the position she is in.

Civil service code: upholding values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. Who knew eh?

The police – well, I don’t know who still has a position of influence, but that needs seriously looked at.

This should be the minutes of an audit committee in 2005 with by Sandy Rosie as a witness (I haven’t read it and is likely boring, and please check the link is the right one):

See the above-mentioned videos at:

Previously ‘here’:

When things go pear-shaped the aide resigns not the minister so what’s different about Leslie Evans?