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Town’s £500,000 cemetery extension put on hold amid allegations of alleged failings in the tendering process

PUBLISHED: 15:04 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:04 28 September 2018

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

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

A £500,000 Suffolk cemetery extension has been put on hold while solicitors investigate alleged failings in the tendering process.

A £500,000 Suffolk cemetery extension has been put on hold while solicitors investigate alleged failings in the tendering process.

Hadleigh Town Council is facing threats of judicial review over the way it awarded a contract to carry out the work.

Critics claim the council failed to follow proper procedures and could jeopardise the project.

Councillor Jan Byrne said the council acted in “good faith” based on expert advice. However, she acknowledged a “possible problem” had arisen with the tender process, which solicitors were investigating.

“We are discussing with solicitors whether we can go ahead or whether we have to go back to the tender process,” she added. “The project is on hold until then.”

Mrs Byrne said the council had carried out a tender process “some years ago” when the project first began.

However, she said the preferred bidder, R&D Construction Limited, had gone into administration this year before starting work.

Mrs Byrne said a new company, Ashwell Construction Limited, had taken over a number R&D’s contracts, and the council’s advisors on the project recommended it proceed with that company.

Hadleigh resident Richard Hinton criticised the decision. In a letter to Babergh District Council’s monitoring officer, he said the council should have started the tender process again.

He also highlighted apparent links between R&D and Ashwell, which he said should have led the council to carry out due diligence into the company’s financial capabilities.

Both R&D and Ashwell’s listings on Companies House show they share the same director, Richard Pratt, 54, of Walsham-le-Willows.

However, Mrs Byrne claims that while people who had worked for R&D had gone on to set up Ashwell, the two directors involved with the bankrupt company had resigned from Ashwell. Ashwell did not respond to a request for comment.

Mrs Byrne said the council had since sought legal advice and was assured it acted legally.

Mr Hinton said he did not believe the contract had been awarded “following the rules laid out for public bodies when awarding large contracts”.

He told Babergh’s monitoring officer that if she did not investigate the claims “I will have no other option but to consider starting a judicial review”.

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