GCP wound down – where did all the money go?

With the change of government regions are no more. Also to go are the economic sub regions which sit below them. In our case we have the Greater Cambridge Partnership ( GCP).

The GCP is an odd organisation with a complex structure. It has the full board, that member organisations sit on ( County council, City Council, Chambers of Commerce etc etc) and an operating board that sit below. This operating board, who are also the directors, are a mix from the public and private sector. The public sector are derived from the member organisations and the private selected by a tap on the shoulder. Before being elected as a county councillor I was on the operating board.

Funding for the GCP has been almost exclusively from local authority or EEDA (East of England Development Agency) a government quango.

A lot of the work carried out by the GCP seemed to be about rebadging work carried out by other organisation.

So to my area of great concern. The GCP, funded from the public purse, was to be wound up. Obviously, you would have thought, the residual money would be returned to the tax payer or at least be put into the LEP which replaces EEDA but doesn’t cost anything like as much.

But no. The operating board recommended to the full board ( still keeping up?) on thursday that the remaining money should be given to a shell company to support clean tech activities.

It seems that the remaining GCP staff, including one highly paid director, are to be made redundant and paid for out of the GCP residual funds ( public money) and then the next day start work in the new clean tech company funded by the residue of the GCP funds (public money). This fails my test of good use of public money. This fact had to be extracted from the individual concerned by two questions from a colleague, which were swerved like a racing car, until I final had to raise the point directly.

Worse, guess who made the presentation to the members board recommending the residual funds were transferred into the clean tech company – you got it, the highly paid director who worked for the GCP, gets redundancy pay and then starts work at the clean tech company.

Now let’s be clear. I support business. I think the clean tech sector is very exciting and should be supported.

That is not the issue. The issue is all about the use of public money and the perception, if not the reality, of individuals feathering their own nest.

So let’s turn to the proposal. Where was the information about the new company? A shell company we are told. Who are the share holders? Who are the company officers? What are the aims of the company? Where is the business plan? Why does it’s first member of staff have to be a highly paid director? If the public purse is to support this sector is this the best way to do it?

All the points above I raised publically so now expect to be off some Christmas card lists. Along with nearly all the public sector organisations present I voted against handing over £70k of our money to the clean tech company which seemed to have the preservation of one directors job as a significant consideration. What’s that funny smell???

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