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Council rapped over Kent TV contract

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by political editor Paul Francis

Kent County Council is facing claims it breached its own rules over the award of an £8,000 contract to a company to review of its controversial internet TV channel "Kent TV".

Opposition Liberal Democrats at County Hall say that because of the value of the contract, KCC was required to secure at least three written quotes for the work.

However, KCC failed to do so, a decision which the Lib Dems say meant it had contravened its own procurement rules governing how contracts should be awarded.

The council defended the way the contract was handled, saying it had not asked for additional quotes because the company that did carry out the review, CapGemini, had initially provided a verbal quote for a figure below £8,000.

Under the terms of KCC's constitution, where the council is considering any contract with a value of between £8,000 and £49,999, at least three written quotes are needed.

In a statement, the council said: "The original verbal quote for this work was that it would be below £8,000. Under KCC's procurement rules this would not require KCC staff to obtain three written quotes. When the final invoice was received it included additional work making it exactly £8,000. The chief executive [Peter Gilroy] made a judgement that it should be paid."

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Trudy Dean said she was concerned that no other quotes for the review had been secured.

"Members need a reliable, independent and robust report to help them make the decision on whether to extend the KentTV contract beyond the two year pilot," she said.

CapGemini's 34-page report was largely complementary about Kent TV but said it was not possible to fully substantiate some of the claims made by KCC about how it had saved money by cutting down on paperwork.

A decision about whether to continue with Kent TV, which has so far cost the authority close to £1.8million, will be made early next year.

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