The portion of meeting concerned was the renewal of sea defences at The Spa. SBC officers requested:
An exemption from the Council’s contract procedure rules to engage with Peter Brett LLP due to the expertise they hold and particularly one of their employees, John Riby.
Sounding familiar? Readers may remember Riby’s past sea defence expertise, which resulted in the 2005/6 High Point Rendel contract procedure scandal.
It is also ironic that SBC are seeking to shortcut the sea defence procurement process to engage a man who was disciplined for shortcutting previous sea defence procurement processes.
The sea defences in question were the Marine & Albert Drives and Riby gave Geotechnical Consultants, High Point Rendel, the job of supervising construction of the sea defences without a contract.
Consequently, High Point Rendel’s fees for the work had risen from £1.2million to £2.4million and the £27million construction bill for the sea defences had doubled to £54million.
When an investigation into the ‘contract’ commenced, it was found that council officers had fabricated a ‘Best Value’ report to give the auditors the impression that the contract had been properly tendered.
The investigation, led by local government troubleshooter Richard Penn, also found that Riby and his boss, the Director of Technical Services Derek Rowell, both blamed each other for the Council’s failure to follow EU law.
Whilst a number of senior officers either retired or moved on, the former Head of Technical Services was the only SBC officer disciplined. Riby was given a final written warning and stripped of his procurement responsibilities, but remained at SBC as Head of Technical Services for another 6 years.