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Calls for clarity over £500,000 council contract

PUBLISHED: 11:20 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:11 08 February 2019

Hadleigh Guildhall, the home of Hadleigh Town Council Picture: GREGG BROWN

Hadleigh Guildhall, the home of Hadleigh Town Council Picture: GREGG BROWN

Questions surrounding a £500,000 investment into a cemetery expansion in Hadleigh may be answered when councillors and the public next meet.

Babergh District Council’s steering group are due to meet on February 12 and have invited members of the town council along, the meeting is also open to members of the public.

Hadleigh Town Council have repeatedly insisted that the meetings about the cemetery must take place confidentially as a retendering process is underway, however community activists have said that all the information is already accessible online and want to be present for the councillors conversations.

Steve Allman, a member of the Hadleigh Together community group, is unable to attend the meeting but is hoping it will give them answers.

“Hadleigh Together is not against the expansion but we do not know why this is happening behind closed doors,” he said.

“This has been going on for nearly a year now and we have made requests for business plans and budget plans and we have seen nothing.

“We are worried that when the local election come in May, all of the councillors could lose their seats and a new set of councillors could be left with a £500k headache if this isn’t sorted out.”

Hadleigh Town Council said that discussions regarding this planning project needed to be kept confidential due to ongoing retendering process.

In September 2018 the company that initially won the tendering process for the £500k cemetery contract went into administration.

Instead of reopening the tendering process, councillors were advised to use a different company that was taking over many of the old business’s projects - a decision that saw Hadleigh resident Richard Hinton pen a letter to Babergh District Council informing them that due diligence needed to be carried out.

After this it was discovered that the council had awarded another contract thought to be worth £15,000 to a construction company without going through the required tender process, instead using a recommendation of the company.

The council’s standing orders at the time required three quotes to be sought for spending over £10,000 and documents show several payments were made to the company.

The steering group meeting is in the public room of Hadleigh Pool and Leisure in Stonehouse Road on February 12, at 4pm.

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