Shropshire Council has revealed some of the costs of investigating whether former council leader Keith Barrow breached the council’s code of conduct.
In answer to a question from Lib Dem group leader, Councillor Roger Evans, deputy leader Steve Charmley said:
The final cost of the investigation undertaken has not yet been calculated. External costs to date, however, total £9,782.80 excluding VAT. This investigation was instigated by Shropshire Council and there are no plans to invoice ip&e Limited for this. Officer time is not routinely recorded for individual pieces of work such as this (PDF).
So that comes to £11,745.60, nearly £12,000. That’s without staff costs for supporting the review and the standards subcommittee. There is clearly going to be not much change out of £20,000 for this review.
Keith Barrow has resigned as both leader and a councillor, so there seems little possibility of landing this bill on him. I am even not sure that there is a legal basis for doing so.
It seems extraordinary that the council will pay this charge not ip&e. What is the point of transferring work to a private company if risk associated with that work is not transferred too?
Keith Barrow seemed confused about whether he should declare his interest in Peakfast within the private halls of ip&e. Was the company acting in a private capacity or as an arm’s length subsidiary of Shropshire Council? It is this confusion that led to the code of conduct complaint last summer and that became the starting point for his downfall.
If Shropshire Council bears the costs of the Barrow inquiry, I think that will show that the council is also confused about its relationship with ip&e. That needs sorting out sooner rather than later.
One thing that Shropshire Council must pay for is the by-election that follows Keith Barrow’s resignation. That will be held on Thursday, 4 February 2016. The notice of election will be published on 18 December, with nominations due by 8 January.
Other Barrow Affair Posts
A correction has been made to this article to correct an error about VAT.